Case Studies: John Lewis

The Customer

John Lewis is a leading retailer, operating 30 department stores and 10 John Lewis At Home stores nationwide and employing over 85,000 staff. Along with the online and catalogue sales operation,, and the Waitrose supermarket business, John Lewis is part of The John Lewis Partnership, which enjoys turnover in excess of £9.5 billion.

The business has experienced phenomenal growth in recent years, with online sales passing the £1 billion mark in 2013. By avoiding the costs of home delivery and helping to drive additional sales in-store, John Lewis’ Click & Collect service is proving to be a key element in the company’s success.

The Challenge

Click & Collect is offered for most items in the product range, allowing customers to place their order online by 7pm for free delivery to their chosen shop – either a John Lewis store or one of an increasing number of Waitrose branches – for collection after 2pm the next day. Once ordered online, these goods are delivered from John Lewis’ distribution centre to the appropriate store, where they are placed in a storage area until the customer arrives to collect them. As these storage areas are often above or below the sales floors, each store requires a means of transporting the goods quickly and safely to the Click & Collect desk on demand. Goods may also be allocated from stock already in-store, meaning that they need to be transported from the relevant sales floor.

John Lewis turned to Nerak-Wiese for a solution and Nerak-Wiese has successfully installed four tote conveying systems to date: at John Lewis in London’s Oxford Street (the flagship store and the first opened by John Spedan Lewis back in 1864), at Peter Jones (a brand of John Lewis) in London’s Sloane Square, at John Lewis in Milton Keynes and at the John Lewis store at Buchanan Galleries in Glasgow.

What Nerak-Wiese provided was an excellent response to the trust we placed in them to deliver the perfect solution – elegant and highly practical.
Ted Weager, Operations Manager (technical)

The Solution

As the first to be installed, the system at the Oxford Street store became the concept solution upon which the other projects were modelled. In common with all Nerak-Wiese projects, the work for Oxford Street began with gaining a clear understanding of the current and future needs of the client, from which Nerak-Wiese produced a design specification and then designed and engineered an integrated vertical and horizontal conveying system.

At the core of the solution is the Nerak KH253AL Elevator, a rapid reciprocating hoist fed by powered belt conveyors on each of the three floors and discharging onto gravity roller conveyors in the collection area on the ground floor. Additional powered belt conveyors on the ground floor feed the reciprocating hoist for the rapid return transfer of the tote boxes back to the upper floors. With conveyor speeds of 0.8m/s and a lift speed of 1.5m/s, the system is designed to move 429 totes per hour from the third floor, 568 from the second floor and nearly 850 from the first floor. Constructed from high-grade aluminium component parts, the KH253AL Elevator is clad with a bolt-on aluminium mesh that, along with an interlocking removable door, provides easy access for any required maintenance.

The Benefits

As well as providing swift transport of customer orders on demand, the systems installed by Nerak-Wiese provide smooth and safe conveying so that goods are not damaged in the process. The speed of the equipment ensures that customers do not have to wait long for the arrival of their orders at the Click & Collect desks, even at peak periods when the systems are required to handle large throughputs of totes.

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