Warehouse automation supplier KNAPP UK Ltd recently celebrated the fact that its first apprentices have successfully completed their indentured training programme.

The apprentices are based at the distribution centre of KNAPP customer, Clarks, in Street, Somerset, where KNAPP’s resident customer support technicians have maintained the shoe giant’s state-of-the-art automated handling and storage systems since their installation in 2005. From its Westway DC, Clarks – the world’s largest casual and smart shoe company – distributes some 26 million pairs of shoes every year.

Following the example set by its parent group in Austria, KNAPP UK has instigated an apprenticeship scheme to create qualified and skilled engineers to maintain its clients’ automated logistics systems. The first two apprentices to graduate from the scheme – Christopher Stone and Jonathan Nichol, both from Taunton – attended Bridgewater College on day release whist receiving on-the-job training at the Westway DC, where they will now work on a permanent basis. At a ceremony held recently at Clarks’ DC, the apprentices were each presented with their sealed indenture, framed certificate and an engraved watch.

At the celebration, David James, Managing Director of KNAPP UK Ltd, commented, “Whilst many other students are gap-yearing and choosing academic courses without knowing what their future career path will be, our apprentices have become skilled technicians – without incurring tuition fee debts and having paid their own living expenses whilst training. The trend for our customers to outsource the support of their systems to us is strengthening every year, so we need skilled technicians who can maintain our clients’ complex handling systems and prevent downtime. This is why we have established our apprenticeship scheme and we are delighted with the results so far.”

Paul Clark, Systems and Administration Manager at Clarks, who also attended the presentation event, said, “Apprenticeships are an ideal start in life, as all the training is focused on the chosen career. We wish Christopher and Jonathan every success in the future and we applaud KNAPP for investing in Britain’s youth.”

Following significant growth in Clarks’ sales in Continental Europe, the company has recently invested in further systems from KNAPP at the Westway DC. The new equipment – which went live late last year – meets Clarks’ throughput of 1,800 cartons per hour and enables the company to prepare shipping consignments in carton format, rather than simply shrinkwrap, to afford better product protection over the greater transport distances required.


Mr Craig Rollason, Head of Sales & Marketing

Tel: 01844 202149

E: craig.rollason@KNAPP.com

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