TJ Morris Ltd, trading as Home Bargains, is one of the UK’s leading and fastest growing, privately owned discount retailers with over 300 stores. With plans to expand this number to over 500 stores by 2018, the business shows no sign of slowing down.

Established over 30 years ago by Tom Morris, opening his first store in Liverpool, Tom has grown the business organically to become one of the biggest privately owned companies in the UK (The Sunday Times Top Track 250, 2009). Tom comes from a retailing family that has run shops for three generations and heads up the company along with three of his brothers.

Employing more than 7,000 people, it is widely regarded as one of the largest businesses in Merseyside and is the third largest independent grocer in the country according to The Grocer Magazine (March 2010).

Home Bargains carries a wide range of top quality, high street brands – from health and beauty products to household goods, food, toys and so much more. All at prices that other retailers struggle to match.

The business is run on one key principle: to sell branded goods at the lowest prices possible. Working in partnership with Total Logistics, supply chain consultants, the company intends to continue its rapid growth and has ambitious expansion plans. Consultants from the Total Logistics team developed an outline concept for the expansion of the distribution centre at the company’s headquarters in Gillmoss, Liverpool, to facilitate this rapid expansion.

With growing business comes growing demand for stock levels and quick turnaround for store replenishment – needing increased storage capacity, and maximum product pick efficiency whilst maintaining low labour overheads. TJ Morris in conjunction with Total Logistics, selected SSI Schaefer to deliver and exceed those expectations within its existing storage and distribution centre in Liverpool, Merseyside.

SSI Schaefer were chosen to provide TJ Morris with an optimum solution that would not only address the immediate operational efficiencies but also provide a flexible solution to accommodate future growth within the business.

Close to reaching ‘critical mass’, the Home Bargains Operation required a significant increase in bulk storage capacity – the decision was also made to make the whole picking operation more efficient and operator friendly. To augment the existing storage whilst accommodating the growing volume of palletised products, a 32 metre high-bay extension to the distribution centre was built.

The new extension, able to house more than 46,000 pallets, has 11 pallet cranes that feed products to more than 1,000 ground level picking locations and deliver replenishment orders to an adjacent mini-load crane-based tote storage system, built to hold slower moving items, providing an additional storage capacity of up to 28,000 totes and 804 picking stations.

The storage totes, are provided in two sizes by SSI Schaefer, one to keep stored products and one to ship items out to store. Both pallet crane and mini-load storage areas are served by extensive pallet and tote conveyor systems.

Pallets arrive either pre-labelled or are labelled upon receipt and quickly inducted on to a pallet conveyor system, which has been designed to handle up to 300 pallets per hour. Two pallet checking stations, capable of processing 150 pallets per hour, check weight and identify broken blocks or bottom boards. A conveyor feed system into the high bay is mounted on a mezzanine floor with elevator access in order to avoid any obstruction to the picking operation.

Pallet cranes feed full pallets to case-picking aisles directly below the high bay storage locations, where cases are picked manually. Full pallets are routed by conveyor to the despatch area or to replenish stock in the mini-load storage system.

At the mini-load receiving stations pallets are placed upon hydraulic lifts, ergonomically designed to help operators break down and decant items into storage totes. The storage totes are then placed on a tote conveyor, which delivers direct to a mini-load crane docking station from where they are picked up and put away in the racking via a crane.

Waste cardboard generated by the process is taken away by an overhead belt conveyor to an external compactor. Product bearing totes are subsequently delivered by the crane to picking locations in flow racks integrated within the mini-load racking at ground level.

Operators, fed by a constant supply of conveyed empty totes, voice-pick products to fulfil multiple orders which, when completed, are placed on a takeaway conveyor and sent to a goods-out marshalling area, where they are automatically sorted by despatch route for waiting vehicles.

SSI Schaefer have fully automated both the strapping round boxes and the ink jet printing and application of labels on the strapping. The whole system is effectively controlled and managed using SSI Schaefer’s Convey Warehouse Control System.

Joe Morris, Operations Director, TJ Morris, said: “Without the expertise and systems technology provided by SSI Schaefer our operation would have struggled to meet the demands placed upon the business by the increased sales of a rapidly expanding store base throughout the UK.”

He continued: “Expanding our storage capability and automating the most labour-intensive areas of our distribution operation has enabled us to expand and future-proof our operation without the need for continual investment in additional labour.”

SSI Schaefer

Tel: 01264 386600


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