Halfords’ Coventry Endeavour Proves Good Business Means Good Warehousing

Halfords’ new distribution centre in Coventry was meant to bring hundreds of new jobs to the area, but the company’s failure to properly manage the project has resulted in substantial losses. According to reports in the Evening Standard, the car parts and bike retailer failed to capitalise on the boom period it experienced last year. During the summer of 2010, Halfords did a roaring trade in bicycles, SatNavs and other accessories as people sought to enjoy the sun. Despite this, Halfords’ profit figures saw a sharp decline, which some experts have blamed on the problems the company has experienced establishing its new warehouse in Coventry.


Halfords are not alone in having suffered for failing to set up good warehousing practices. The Evening Standard also reports online grocers Ocado have struggled to balance their warehousing needs in recent years. Having suffered from “capacity constraints” at their depot in Hatfield, the company recently opened a larger warehouse in Warwickshire, though some believe the £210 million bill will drag down the company’s profits for years to come.


American fashion retailers SuperGroup have also suffered “a significant, temporary reduction both in the amount of stock and range of sizes reaching its UK stores” as a result of mismanaging its current warehouse upgrade. The problems are likely to hit sales and inevitably profits from August right through to November.


In contrast, retailers who get their warehousing needs right are able to capitalise on their sales success. Amazon – early pioneers of big business online retail – has recently opened its eighth UK depot and is in staggeringly rude health.


Nick Goodway, a business reporter for the Evening Standard, observed, “It’s easy for consumers to think that retailing is all about what we see on the shelves. In fact the system which gets the stuff onto the shelves, into the vans or into the post is probably even more important. Demand is good. Being able to supply it is better”


It’s a lesson many retailers could also do with bearing in mind. If you’re a start up or an established company operating in Coventry and the West Midlands make sure you have good, reliable warehousing set up if you want to offer good, reliable service.


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