Being chosen to run AF Blakemore’s flagship cash and carry at the Science Park in Wolverhampton is both an honour and a burden, says new manager Andy Mitchell. “On the one hand, I feel like a kid in a sweet shop. There really is no comparison between this depot and the one it replaced - we’ve come to this from an empty shell in under five months.
“On the other hand, the pressure is on. We spent £5m on this site, so I am obviously
expected to deliver a significant increase in sales from the depot it replaced.”
Mitchell, who has held a variety of roles at AF Blakemore over the past 13 years, moved from the Newport depot to Wolverhampton in September and has since been working pretty much around the clock to get the 77,000 sq ft site up and running by the February 29 launch.
“The thing I love about this project is that we have been able to start from scratch with the ranging and layout,” says Mitchell. “The range was unwieldy, so we axed thousands of lines in ambient and non-food to make way for more fresh, chilled and catering lines. We’ve also got some Heart of England regionally sourced lines.
“Another great thing about this depot is the fact that it’s so bright, clean and fresh. And there is heating - which makes a huge difference to the shopping experience.”
The Science Park development also houses the headquarters of Blakemore Wholesale, which used to be based at the Spar distribution HQ in Willenhall - a big step forward for the business, says Mitchell. “It gives us more independence and when suppliers visit we can actually show them the depot next door.”