Marks & Spencer’s new state-of-the-art distribution centre, officially opened in Bradford on Tuesday, will slash furniture lead times.

The warehouse, which began to operate earlier this year, has enabled the retailer to cut lead times from 28 days to seven, said logistics and IT director Darrell Stein. He envisaged being able to bring the period, excluding made-to-order furniture, down to five or even three days.

Stein said the change will improve customer service. “This will make a massive difference in furniture,” he added. The 1.1 million sq ft centre will also distribute ambient food from next year.

The centre is a key step in M&S’s Project 2020 business improvement programme. Chairman Sir Stuart Rose said the right infrastructure is essential. “This warehouse is a hugely important symbol of what we’re trying to do,” he added.