Tesco at Prologis RFI DIRFT

Customer Case Studies

In early 2010, in the depths of the last recession, we agreed to deliver a sustainable 840,000 square foot rail-connected National Distribution Centre (NDC) for Tesco at the second phase of Prologis RFI DIRFT. We had recently secured the rail access to this new phase of DIRFT, so this deal was a clear endorsement of our rail freight strategy.

However, we were working to a tight time schedule. The building, the infrastructure and the fit-out had to be completed by the time we handed over the facility in May 2011. This meant that we had to tailor our approach and carefully integrate all three strands of the development.

Sustainable Success
Tesco was leading the logistics sector in its commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions and could see that a sustainable distribution centre with intermodal capabilities, would make a significant contribution to its ambitious environmental targets. And this proved to be the case.

Green credentials

  • We designed and constructed the building in line with our sustainable development strategy, achieving BREEAM ‘Excellent’ certification and an EPC ‘A’ 23 rating, with operational CO2 emissions at 36% lower than Building Regulations.
  • We measured and reduced the carbon embodied in the fabric and structure of the building. We then mitigated 29,387 tonnes of unavoidable CO2 emissions by investing in local education projects and by protecting 622 acres – almost a square mile – of the Amazon rainforest through environmental charity Cool Earth.
  • The 7,500 square metre intermodal area has three sidings, where Tesco receives and despatches four trains a day. This takes nearly 100,000 lorry journeys off the road every year, saving around 14 million road miles and 9.3 million kg of CO2 every year, a reduction in transport related carbon emissions of 46%.

Not only does the new site provide the space we need to support the future growth of our grocery range; it also delivers major environmental benefits.

Tony Fletcher, Tesco PLC

Speed and Innovation

While the facility set a new standard for sustainable development, the time constraints meant it was a particularly complex challenge. We worked closely with our supply chain and developed a meticulously planned and integrated programme, devising some innovative ways of working. The rail tunnel under the A5 trunk road, linking the new phase of DIRFT with the original site, is a good example. 

We built a 20 metre concrete box tunnel beside the A5. When this was complete, the road was closed for 58 hours over a weekend so that we could move the box tunnel into place. We excavated the A5 down to the tunnel base level and lifted the structure – which weighs approximately 600 tonnes – into its final position. We then backfilled and resurfaced the road so that it could be opened to traffic in time for the Monday morning rush hour.

It was a dramatic weekend, but the tunnel was just one of many interesting moments during this project. One of my abiding memories is of snow blowing in at one end of the building while racking was being assembled at the other.

The new NDC has been a great success. Construction was complete and the clocks were on the walls by the agreed deadline. On hand-over day, the Tesco team walked into their new carbon efficient facility and started work straightaway.