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Hudson’s Bay will feed need for speed with robots at new DC


Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) will open a new omnichannel fulfillment center in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, that includes assistance from robots.

The center, opening in July, will run robotic retail technology that HBC says is approximately three-times faster than the typical technology utilized in e-commerce DCs The retailer plans to open the 450,000-sq.-ft. facility through a phased approach, expanding to 617,500 sq. ft. by January 2017.

HBC intends to reduce costs while improving output volume and accuracy with robotic automation. The new center will support all e-commerce fulfillment for HBC’s Lord & Taylor and Saks Off 5th department store banners.

The Pottsville facility will house corporate offices, a photo studio and a warehouse. It will initially have approximately 600 positions, which includes the creation of more than 200 new jobs in the city of Pottsville, as well as approximately 390 positions that will move from the company’s existing Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, DC. Following the Pottsville DC opening, the Wilkes-Barre facility will continue to employ approximately 750 people and will focus on supporting the retail operations of the Lord & Taylor, Saks, and Saks Off 5th banners. There will be a total of approximately 1,350 positions between the two facilities in the state of Pennsylvania.

“At HBC, we are laser-focused on our all-channel strategy, and this investment leapfrogs us to the forefront of internet distribution technology,” said Jerry Storch, HBC's CEO. “As we execute on our digital strategy, we continue to invest in innovation that enables us to serve our consumers seamlessly, lead the evolution of trends in the retail industry, and expand our business which creates new job opportunities and investment in the community.”

Following the opening of the Pottsville facility, HBC plans to introduce the technology to its Scarborough, Ontario, DC this fall, making it the only company in Canada to utilize the robotic systems. This is expected to result in improved productivity and throughput, as well as increased storage space, without any reduction to full-time staff. has been using robots at up to 10 of its DCs for several years now, and even purchased robot manufacturer Kiva Systems in 2012 to bring robot development in-house. So far both Amazon and HBC have used robots to augment, rather than replace, human DC workers, but as the technology progresses this may change.

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