Our depot staff are crucial to the success of the ‘Join us’ campaign. If our own brand products aren’t on the shelves at the right time, our customers can’t buy them to benefit from membership.

Paul Harrison, Team Leader at our biggest depot, Lea Green in St Helen’s, tells us about life on the 2pm to 10pm shift and how his team are succeeding together.

Ever wondered what goes on in a depot? According to Paul who manages a team of 60 ‘loaders’ at one of our ten depots across the UK, their job is to take a store’s shopping list and do their shopping. “That’s the simplest way to put it really,” he laughs.

Part of the process

But simple it is not. ‘Process’ is a word used a lot in depots. And that’s because if one part of it fails you can have a crisis on your hands.

The team has a lot of technology to help in what is a complex environment. “Manhattan is the operating system that gives us all our information on what’s happening on the shop floor,” explains Paul. “All your loading, picking and KPI reports come off there. It gives us an insight on a day-to-day business. We’re getting upgraded on the new version of the system this July which will make things much quicker and easier.”

“We get trailers coming all the way from Scotland to Salcombe and can get up to 30 or 40 ambient deliveries on this shift alone which can equate to 1,600 pallets in a day. You can sometimes have 11 deliveries of milk in one day,” he explains.

Listen to Paul explaining the end-to-end process for chilled goods in (nearly) sixty seconds!

Plenty of passion

Paul hasn’t always worked for the Co-op. He was with Somerfield up until eight years ago. “The best thing that ever happened to us was Co-op jumping in. They brought in new ideas and processes. It does feel different working for them. The people who work here respect what they’re doing. Everybody knows everybody. These guys aren’t just loaders, they’re pickers if they need to be – all multi-skilled.

“We brief our guys and ladies every day on the importance of their job, what it means and the impact it has on stores and sales. People care here. They do what matters most,” he adds.

What’s a loader?

“A person who takes the stock in his cage and puts it onto the back of a trailer. He or she will follow a load plan from the loading office as per process to make sure it all gets there on time and in full.”

What’s a picker?

“The person who picks that product into those cages following a voice system called ‘Vocollect’ which tells them what to pick, where to pick it and where to drop it. It was an American’s woman’s voice – now you can change the accent and the sex if you want!

Own-brand products

With Taste and Tell making an appearance every month at our depots, colleagues get to try the latest products. “Some of our products are fantastic,” enthuses Paul. “Our Co-op Beef Stew and Dumplings is a personal favourite – I think it’s 2 for £4 which is great.”

“The products aren’t as expensive as what they used to be – there are really good deals on now. That’s something people don’t see and perceptions need to change,” he admits.

“We’ve got a new store nearby but most people like to pick up something to take home for their tea. I think we should have a small store in the depot – that way our colleagues could buy more from us.”

Find out more about what Paul thinks about products, community and how the Co-op can be back for good.

Join the conversation! 3 Comments

  1. Thanks Rachel.

  2. Not great timing for those of us in depots facing redundancy right now

    • Hi Simon. Very sorry to hear that. We just wanted to celebrate colleagues in depots who don’t often get a mention. ^Rachel

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