John Lewis Partnership has agreed the lease of a 1 million sq ft distribution centre from Tesco as it builds online operations.

A staff member oversees orders at John Lewis's Magna Park distribution centre

John Lewis’s new distribution centre will complement its Magna Park facility

The Partnership, owner of John Lewis department stores and grocer Waitrose, said the deal would enable it to combine customer orders, reducing packages by approximately 1 million per year, and create 500 new jobs.

The distribution centre at Fenny Lock, near Milton Keynes, will be John Lewis’s second-biggest after the 2 million sq ft facility at Magna Park, four miles away.

John Lewis Partnership executive director of operations Andrew Murphy said: “This one-of-a-kind distribution centre represents a fantastic opportunity to power the continued growth of, ensuring that we can keep pace with customer demand - both for our products and for our wide range of fulfilment and delivery options.

John Lewis investing in growth

”We will invest in the site’s automation capability to support future growth and, over the next two years, we will recruit 500 new Partners to work at the distribution centre, which we plan to start operating during summer 2022. 

“The proximity to our Magna Park campus will help us meet our target of being net zero carbon by 2035”

John Lewis online homepage

“We will use the Fenny Lock site to fulfil customer orders for fashion, small home furnishing items and technology products. The proximity to our Magna Park campus will enable us to combine more customer orders, reducing both the number of packages we create by approximately 1 million per year,  and the number of lorries on the road, helping us to meet our target of being net zero carbon by 2035.”

Online sales have grown rapidly since the start of the Covid pandemic. At John Lewis they now account for 60% of the total, compared to 40% before the coronavirus outbreak struck. This year the retailer will invest £50m in and its app, and a further £100m in online growth over the five years.

John Lewis has leased the Fenny Lock distribution centre for 11 years on undisclosed terms.

The retailer has also signed a three-year lease for a 300,000 sq ft distribution centre at Bardon, Leicestershire, where operations start this month as the run-up to Black Friday gets under way.  The premises will be run on the retailer’s behalf by Clipper Logistics. 

  • Get the latest grocery news and analysis straight to your inbox – sign up for our weekly newsletter