Component supplier Ferdinand Bilstein has confirmed that warehouses in both Kent and Yorkshire will close as the firm relocates logistics to a new purpose built facility at the Markham Vale industrial complex. In responses to questions asked by CAT, the company confirmed that the closures ‘will unfortunately lead to redundancies’. However, 140 jobs will be created at the new site (see panel for the firm’s complete response).
The switch-on date for the highly automated facility is January 2018, with full operation of both Febi and Blue Print brands expected by the last quarter of the year. Head Office functions such as HR, finance and purchasing will remain in Kent.
A facility owned by Bilstein Group in Ennepetal, Germany, features a large ‘dark warehouse’ automated stock and picking system installed by Witron Integrated Logistics. A similar system is being installed at the new site.
Ferdinand Bilstein UK changed its name from Automotive Distributors Ltd (ADL) in early 2015, following the acquisition of ADL by Ferdinand Bilstein GmbH+Co (now known as Bilstein Group) in 2011.
Q & A: FERDINAND BILSTEIN
1) What date is the Markham Vale set to go live/open its doors for service?
Markham Vale will ‘go-live’ and be operational from January 2018. Blue Print stock will move in first, followed by Febi a few months later. However, full operation of both brands at the site will be from Q3/Q4 of 2018.
2) Have the previous Kent and Yorkshire operations already closed down? When did/will they roll down the shutters for good?
No, the offices in Kent will remain open, and so functions such as HR, Finance, Product Management, Purchasing, IT and Marketing will continue to run on this site. However, the warehouses in Kent will close during the first quarter of 2018. The Yorkshire operations will close during the later months of 2018.
3) What prompted the move to the Derbyshire business park?
Ferdinand Bilstein UK Ltd wanted to improve its efficiency and logistics capabilities in order to improve customer service. The site in Derbyshire proved a fantastic opportunity, with its central location offering excellent transport links just off junction 29a of the M1, as well as close proximity to customers.
4) Have or will there be any redundancies from the transition over to the new premises? If so, how many are expected?
The warehouses at the Kent site will close, and this will unfortunately lead to redundancies. However, we are working closely with training organisations, recruitment agencies and other local businesses to help staff find new positions in the local area. Staff in both Kent and Yorkshire have been offered the chance to relocate.
5) For those who have been kept on, will they maintain their original roles or take on a different one within the company?
Staff who have chosen to make the move to Markham Vale will be able to maintain their original roles and responsibilities from the new site, and some will be offered the chance to develop further, to fill the new requirements at the site with the installation of new technology and systems. Training will be offered to staff who wish to learn these new skills. Staff who are remaining in Kent will retain their current roles.
6) What does the Markham Vale site comprise of?
Markham Vale is to become our main distribution centre. With this in mind, the 14.4 acres site is largely taken up by a 215,000 square foot, state of the art warehouse, complete with manual racking and semi-automated machinery – the Order Picking system. There are offices upstairs, meeting rooms and a canteen.
There is a reception area to greet visitors to the site. There is also a garden space outside of reception to provide a break from the office or warehouse during lunch. And a large carpark. A lot of time and effort was put into the planning stages to ensure the site had the best facilities for our staff.
7) There are currently up to 140 jobs at the Markham Vale site. When are you expecting to get all these positions filled and the new employees into the warehouse?
A recruitment open day was held on 14th October attended by 600 people to let people see the new building/site and what we have to offer them. The warehouse roles will be filled from October until the beginning of next year, allowing time for training before the site is operational in January. Once the site is fully operational, more job opportunities are likely to become available in the offices as well as the warehouse, as the site grows.