Footwear retailer Schuh was featured on the cover of the first print edition of eDelivery magazine, and is ranked top in the Operations & Logistics category of our sister publication InternetRetailing’s Top 500 listing of UK retailers, being the first big name on the high street to offer in-store click-and-collect within an hour.
From its first shop in Edinburgh, Schuh has grown significantly over its 30 year history, and now boasts 100 stores across the UK and Ireland, with a new outlet recently launched in Oberhausen, Germany. The heart of the Schuh operation is focused at its two distribution centres in Bathgate and Livingston, West Lothian, Scotland, from where their shoes are stored, packaged and despatched for delivery to their network of retail outlets.
“We oversee distribution of 10,000 items every week from our centres to our shops across the country, and overseas to Ireland and now Germany, so it’s absolutely essential for the business that we run an efficient and streamlined packaging operation,” explains Donald Hutchison, Logistics Manager at Schuh.
For the past 10 years, Antalis Packaging has been working closely with Schuh to provide regular deliveries of a range of protective packaging products and bespoke solutions, and has also played an active role in helping Schuh optimise packaging operations at its distribution centres.
Under the watch of regional manager Norman Robb, Antalis Packaging delivers protective packaging supplies to Schuh’s distribution centres at least once a week, as well as introducing new innovations and labour saving solutions. This has resulted in the development and introduction of enhanced carton construction and design innovations to add strength and quality to their shipment containers while optimising weight, as well as introducing automated stretch wrapping solutions to reduce assembly and fulfilment time, adding further to operational efficiency and cost savings.
Initially supplying just one single-sized outer carton in the early days, Antalis Packaging has responded to increased demand as Schuh’s business has expanded, and now supplies a variety of sized protective cartons and complimentary packaging supplies. It also introduced the company to a new semi-automated Lantech Stretch Wrapping solution to improve the speed and containment of its palletised containers.
“We’ve really noticed a difference since the introduction of the Lantech systems. This was a process previously done by hand, so now we can process more product, and increase load security speeding up operations for despatch,” says Hutchison.
“The vacuum system was initially trialled in the Livingston distribution centre, following a detailed audit by Antalis. It worked so well, that we decided to implement it in our Bathgate site also. Previously, we required two men to load the magazine full time, and we were noticing health and safety concerns from the heavy lifting. We care the utmost about our staff, and the vacuum system has meant that only one operator is required to move the suction cup head to feed onto the pallet, making it a much safer process.”
“Antalis Packaging also provides additional off-site storage for our regularly ordered products, so we never have to worry about running short of supplies, as we know that just one call to Antalis, and they can respond quickly,” he adds.
Hutchison has welcomed the positive feedback that these changes to his packaging fulfilment operation has generated from the many retail outlets. Maintaining high standards throughout the business is essential to Schuh, from the quality, design and presentation of its merchandise, its high levels of in-store customer service, to the way in which the shoes are finally sold and handed over to the customer. “At the end of the day, no customer wants to receive a pair of brand new shoes in a damaged box,” he explains. “So it’s essential that we can provide effective protection in the most dynamic way, so our boxed shoes arrive in-store in tip top condition.”