ANNUAL REPORT 2014 BLOKKER HOLDING
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INTERVIEW WITH HUGO DE BIE

NEW AND IMPROVED DISTRIBUTION CENTRE IN WAALWIJK:

We can always add another section if needed

Since joining Blokker Holding in 1998 and after holding positions as Logistics Manager, Sales Manager, Deputy Sales Director at Xenos and Managing Director of Xenos and Cook&Co, Hugo de Bie will start focusing completely on the expansion of Xenos in the German market in July 2015, when he takes over as Managing Director for Germany. Hugo, who is 47, lives in Volkel with his wife and six children. In his spare time he likes to go running and go out for dinner with his family.

RECEIVE THE GOODS INSTEAD OF COLLECTING THEM
In the brand-new part of the distribution centre, cranes are driving around in narrow paths between scaffolds the height of small tower blocks. And yet the hall, which is several dozen metres high, is seam­lessly connected with two other sections of the distribution centre. 

Hugo: ‘In early 2014, we began using the high-bay unit for the storage of goods. We are currently working on our dynamic order-picking system. This involves removing goods from the shelves and delivering them to the employee. The process always worked the other way around, but this new system has significantly reduced the likelihood of error and allows us to work much more efficiently. It is quite a challenge to link the warehouse management system – which manages the logistics operations of the entire distribution centre – to the software installed in the high-bay cranes and the automatic order-picking system. We expect to implement this new order-picking system in the course of 2015.’

WEBSHOPS: THE MARKET DICTATES
The online orders are also sent from the Waalwijk distribution centre to the customer. The top floor of the shipping warehouse accommodates a separate floor where all online orders are prepared for shipment. Order picking is done manually in this department. A spiral conveyor, a metal slider also known as the wokkel (named after a spiral-shaped Dutch savoury treat) is used to transport orders from the online-store floor to the ground floor, where the boxes are prepared for shipment. 

‘We are currently checking out how we can expand the product range for the webshops. Since the entire logistics system – including offline and online – is all under one roof, we aim for a cut-off time for our online orders (the latest time consumers can order items for next-day delivery – Ed.) of 10:00 p.m. That is what the market dictates. We have already achieved this for Cook&Co and will do the same for Xenos by the end of 2015.’ 

EXPANSION IN GERMANY
The main reason for the expansion of the distribution centre is to accommodate the rapid growth of Xenos in Germany. The chain expanded the number of stores with 12 to 62 in 2014. Xenos continues to see potential for growth in the densely populated country. ‘From a logistics perspective, Waalwijk is the perfect location for stocking both the Dutch and German stores. Towns such as Dokkum and Den Helder are equidistant to Waalwijk as Dortmund and Cologne. So, essentially, that part of Germany is just as close as the farthest Dutch stores. This makes a single central storage area the best logistics solution.’ He continues, smiling and pointing to a large piece of grassland next to the building: ‘And if we manage to grow even further in Germany, at least we’ll have space to add another section.’