Case Study

Varner

Varner leads automated warehouse fashion distribution

Country
Sweden
Industry
Retail
Partner
Swisslog

Varner, one of the biggest fashion chains in Scandinavia, wanted to build the world’s best-automated warehouse. Find out why they picked the AutoStore system.

46
K sqm
Covered by the grid
224
Robots
116
K
Bins
6 000
Bins/hour

At Varner’s central warehouse in Sweden, a new automated system has made it possible to get the distribution networks of 11 brands operating under the group into one large facility.

Varner, which is currently one of Europe’s largest fashion groups, was founded in Oslo, Norway, in 1962. It started small, but today, the chain has a network of 1,500 stores across Europe and also serves customers via its online stores. 

With an annual revenue of about $1.2 billion (2018) and a footprint in eight European countries, including Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Denmark, Austria, and Germany, the family-owned company is well known across the region. 

A total of 11 retail chains – Cubus, Dressmann, Dressmann XL, Bik Bok, Carlings, Volt, Urban, WOW, Levi’s Store, Nike Store, and Days Like This – operate under their own brands within Varner. Each of these brands used to operate from their own manual warehouses across Europe. But, at the Varner facility, the distribution networks are now all under one roof.

Varner’s central warehouse is situated in Vänersborg in Sweden, close to the company headquarters in Norway. It is here that the company installed the AutoStore system, empowered by Swisslog, in 2016 and then expanded it three years later.

“We had the goal to build the best warehouse in the world,” says Anders Eriksson, Supply Chain Director at Varner. “It was important to us to challenge ourselves in this way.”

Whether they succeeded in achieving this goal is difficult to say. But, says Eriksson, their new automated warehouse helps them to provide their customers with the best possible service every day.

“We wanted to build the best warehouse in the world.”

Anders Eriksson
Supply Chain Director at Varner

The AutoStore system at Varner

Within a few years of installing a new automated system at their Swedish warehouse, rapid growth in online sales once again forced Varner to expand its capacity.

The team set to work to create a new facility that would allow easy access to Norway, the port of Gothenburg, and the EU, says Eriksson – and succeeded in creating a cutting-edge central distribution center that reacts quickly to customer demand.

Varner’s new AutoStore system is vast, as the numbers below show:

  • They started with 60,000 Bins in 2016 and now have 116,300. 
  • The system now operates with the help of 224 Robots and can handle 6,000 Bins per hour. 
  • There are eight workstations for picking and packing, four stations for return handling, and 24 sorting stations. 
  • A total of 22 cranes service a secondary storage area, which has a storage capacity of 500,000 cases.
  • The warehouse is extensive and covers 500,000 square feet (46,451 square meters).
  • There are two high-bay warehouses and two AutoStore grids.

Interestingly, garments are now hung across three levels, which greatly contribute to maximising the warehouse’s capacity. 

In most other warehouses, explains the team, merchandise is packed into cartons. But in the clothing industry, this isn’t always practical. The new AutoStore system combines automated storage with conventional picking, ensuring that the garments reach shoppers in the best condition possible.

Multiple interconnected solutions

Varner’s new warehouse consists of multiple interconnected solutions. There are conveyors, sorters, and Robots, which are responsible for the effective transportation of the goods. These components also make sequencing, palletizing, depalletizing, and dispensing of the goods easy, helping the 80 to 100 employees who work at the warehouse to do their jobs with ease.

“The state-of-the-art warehouse has been assembled to improve customer service by offering the highest product availability, precise delivery, and shortened lead times,” says Eriksson. What’s more, the system constantly adapts to both present and future demands, ensuring that the distribution center doesn’t miss a beat.

Varner’s AutoStore system is empowered by Swisslog Logistics – a cooperation that has worked exceptionally well, according to Eriksson.

“We’ve obtained a flexible, cost-effective, ergonomic, and green solution in our warehouse,” Eriksson concludes.

Lynn Metzger
Client Development Manager

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