Booths Keswick

Source: Booths

The investment comes alongside a wider modernisation programme of Booths’ stores

Booths is set to open a new cold chain facility, as part of a wider shake-up of its vertically integrated supply chain, The Grocer can reveal.

The new 18,000 sq ft freezer facility is set to open by late January 2024 at the company’s main manufacturing site at Longridge Road in Preston.

The supermarket already manufactures, packs and distributes a large portion of its produce in house at the Longridge Road site and at a separate facility located on Chain Caul Way, also in Preston. The new cold chain facility would handle picking and distribution for its frozen supply chain.

Booths MD Nigel Murray told The Grocer the supermarket had decided to take the “opportunity” to take over management of its frozen supply chain after its current partner – the Spar wholesaler James Hall & Co – had informed Booths it wanted to use its facility for other opportunities.

“They’ve been very supportive and very communicative,” Murray said. “We’ve been working through this for the last 12 months or so now and sometime hopefully towards the end of January we’ll make that change.” 

Booths previously handled the final deliveries to store but would now also manage warehouse and pick elements from the Preston site.

The new capability would also enable Booths to improve its range of products and efficiency across its operations, it said.

It follows a move earlier in 2023, that saw the supermarket bring its wet salad production back in house. The company previously outsourced production of its own-label chilled salad items like potato salad and coleslaw, but was now producing these in Preston, it said.

As well as selling the lines in Booths stores, the company also supplies a range of its own label and generic label products to private and public sector businesses.

“Wet salads simply adds more range to that offer,” Murray said. ”We couldn’t get the quality and range we wanted in the quantities we needed from any of the other UK-based producers,” Murray said.

“That’s an area where we want to make sure we’ve got a really good handle on quality,” Murray said. “One of the challenges for us is that to go to the mainstream producers is often quite difficult because of scale and production efficiencies,” Murray added.

It’s the latest in a string of investments made by the regional family-owned grocer aimed at modernising its services and enhancing its store experience.

Last month The Grocer revealed that Booths is underway with a multimillion-pound refit of its core IT systems. The multi-year plan will see the grocer digitise its currently card-based Booths loyalty card, as well as upgrade other systems including its tills.

The retailer has also invested heavily in its 27 stores, to build on its reputation for excellent customer service. The refit has seen the rollout of a new, luxury Café format, and as revealed by The Grocer, has seen the company strip out self service machines in all but two of its stores.