Sainsbury to open first dedicated online DC

Leading U.K. food retailer Sainsbury just past online grocery sales of £1 billion ($1.6 billion U.S.) and to celebrate the occasion announced plans to open its first dedicated online fulfillment center in east London.

Home delivery of grocery is more commonplace in the U.K., especially London, where higher population densities and prohibitively high fuel prices discourage vehicle ownership.

The retailer said the 185,000-sq.-ft. facility located in the eastern London community of Bromley-By-Bow would allow it to serve 20,000 more customers each week in addition to its existing base of 190,000 customers.

"The site will be purpose built with the Sainsbury’s customer in mind and will support our existing store based operation, something that will continue to be the foundation of our online grocery business,” said Jon Rudoe, Sainsbury’s director of online, digital and cross-channel.

The company began home delivery of groceries in 1999 and currently relies on its network of 214 stores which cover 96% of U.K. postal codes to fulfill orders. The company said its delivery drivers traveled 43 million miles last year and delivered 10.5 million products every week.