Marks & Spencer is to shut its Hardwick distribution centre near Warrington, Cheshire, where consultations have begun with 450 affected workers.

The Hardwick DC and its transport operations are run by XPO Logistics and DHL, who have both started a formal consultation period.

Separately, M&S has appointed DHL to run its new Southeast distribution centre in Welham Green, Hertfordshire.

The changes are part of M&S’s five-year transformation programme to become “a faster, more commercial retailer”.

As part of that push, the retailer is creating a new “single-tier” logistics network for its key clothing and home division.

M&S said: “The new single-tier network will enable M&S to move products from suppliers to stores faster and at lower cost. This will be achieved by moving to a smaller network of large DCs, strategically placed across the UK.”

M&S is automating its DC in Bradford, meaning it can now handle more capacity, and Hardwick, which is responsible for supplying stores in Scotland and the Northwest of England, is no longer needed.

The Hardwick DC will shut in September.

M&S director of clothing and home supply chain and logistics Gordon Mowat said: “Closing Hardwick will help to remove some complexity from our network and speed up our supply chain.

“It was not a decision we took lightly and it is not in any way a reflection on the hard work and dedication provided by the teams on site. We will do all we can to support our partners through the consultation process.”

In January, M&S announced it would close its DC in Neasden, north London, early next year and open a new one in Welham Green.

M&S has appointed DHL to run Welham Green following a competitive tender. The DC will to open in 2019, creating 500 jobs.

Mowat said: “On our new site at Welham Green, DHL is the right partner for us.

“They delivered the best response to the tender, they have a strong track record at other M&S sites and are best placed in terms of costs and speed of operation to help us realise the benefits of our new DC.”