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Why Coles decided in favor of WITRON

WITRON will realize two automated logistics centres for the Australian supermarket chain Coles by 2023: Coles CEO Steven Cain (right) and WITRON CEO Helmut Prieschenk signed the contracts. Image: Coles.

Image: Coles

Satisfied faces after successful contract negotiations (from left to right): Diarmuid McArdle (Automation Program Manager Coles), Simon Watson (Program Manager Coles), Christian Dietl (CEO WITRON Service), Matt Swindells (Supply Chain Director Coles), Helmut Prieschenk (CEO WITRON), Steven Cain (CEO Coles), Johannes Meissner (Project Manager WITRON). Image: Coles.

Image: Coles

Major Australian retail company Coles has selected WITRON to deliver two new ambient distribution centers as part of a supply chain modernisation program that will improve availability for customers while lowering costs. Coles and WITRON have now executed definitive contracts for WITRON to develop two new automated ambient distribution centres in the states of Queensland and New South Wales.

In seeking a partner for the project, Coles had regard to WITRON’s track record of delivering 54 similar projects with global retailers including E. Leclerc, Kroger, Target (US), Supervalu, Sobeys, Edeka, Mercadona, Migros, Meijer, Inex and Coop Norway.

Coles operates more than 2,500 retail outlets across Australia including supermarkets, liquor stores and fuel and convenience stores. More than 21 million customers per week shop in-store or online at Coles, generating sales of more than 39 billion Australian dollars over the 12 months to the end of June 2018 (equivalent to approx. 24.5 billion euros). 

The two distribution centres will respectively supply a full range of ambient grocery lines to more than 240 Coles supermarkets in New South Wales and more than 170 supermarkets in Queensland.

From each of the two approximately 70,000 square meter logistics locations, all stores are supplied with a full range of dry goods.

“The modernization of our supply chain will provide a safer working environment for our team members, lower supply chain costs, enhance our overall business competitiveness and make life easier for our customers by having the right offer in the right location,” said Coles CEO Steven Cain."

Intensive project discussions

WITRON’s CEO, Helmut Prieschenk, said the company was very pleased to be working with Coles on WITRON’s first Australian project.

“We spent a lot of time working with Coles to make sure that the project was exactly what was needed, going right back to the most basic data before looking at logistics modules and technology, service and operator concepts, end-to-end supply chain intelligence, and finally to ways that the centres could make use of existing and future technology.”

WITRON: new subsidiary in Australia

In what WITRON owner and company founder Walter Winkler proudly describes as “A milestone in the almost 50-year-history of the company”, WITRON has already registered an Australian subsidiary company, WITRON Australia Pty Ltd, which will be based in Sydney, to manage the project.

“We have successfully completed facilities like this in markets across Europe and North America,” says Walter Winkler. “Our experience has taught us that customer proximity is crucial for a successful realization. We need to be close to our customer, the project, the market, the people, and to the culture”.

“We believe that by the end of 2023 when the projects are finished, these two new Coles distribution centres will be the most modern logistics infrastructure assets in Australia.”

Mr Winkler said WITRON has always prioritized innovation and growth. “After sustained success in Europe, WITRON established its own subsidiary in the United States back in 1995, conquering the North American market. This courage has developed into a success story. Today, we already employ more than 1,000 staff members there and almost all leading food retailers are among our customers.”

This will see WITRON integrate its proven WITRON standard solutions OPM (Order Picking Machinery), CPS (Car Picking System), ALP (Automated Layer Picker), as well as a fully automated shipping buffer and a module of the All-in-One Order Fulfillment System (AIO), which was especially developed for food retailers and Omni-Channel DCs.

Furthermore, WITRON as a general contractor will be responsible for the implementation of all IT, control, and mechanical components including steel construction, stacker cranes and conveyor system – all developed by the company’s in-house logistics experts.