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We visited the new R300 million Cotton On warehouse with a solar plant, grey water systems

Business Insider SA
Cotton On's new campus in Johannesburg. (Image: Supplied/Cotton On)
Cotton On's new campus in Johannesburg. (Image: Supplied/Cotton On)
  • Cotton On just moved to its newly built South African headquarters and distribution centre in Midrand.
  • The group invested R300 million in the project and has enhanced efficiencies, helping it process orders quicker.
  • With a focus on sustainability and energy efficiency, it has a 200 kWh solar power plant, grey water harvesting systems, and LED lighting. 
  • It says the new distribution centre is equipped to process 6,000 orders each day.
  • For more stories, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

Cotton On, the Australian retailer that first made its African foray a decade ago when it launched in South Africa, just unveiled its brand new headquarters and distribution warehouse in the country, just outside Johannesburg.

The retail group invested R300 million in the 22,000m2 new build in Midrand, situated just a kilometre from its Mall of Africa store, which is also its largest Cotton On store worldwide. It has grey water harvesting systems, a 200 kWp solar power plant, LED lighting, and proximity sensors that help mitigate energy usage.

The company said an additional 50% of the space would be used for future eCommerce processing.

The warehouse is built to process online orders more efficiently and at a much quicker rate than at its previous 12,000m2 Pomona warehouse in Kempton Park.  Its new home has the capacity, Cotton On says, to process as many as 6,000 e-commerce orders per day and 200,000 units of stock to its retail network. 

cotton on warehouse interior
Cotton On warehouse interior with floor safety markings. (Image: Ntando Thukwana/Business Insider South Africa)
cotton on warehouse interior
Cotton On's new distribution centre. (Image: Ntando Thukwana/Business Insider South Africa)

The new distribution centre features 11.5m high vertical columns with very narrow aisles or VNAs with a wideness of 1.6m. The aisles are equipped with guard rails fixed to the ground, which help deactivate forklift steering while operating within the aisles. This allows the more efficient, faster, and safer moving of stock.

cotton on warehouse interior
Rail guards fixed to the ground to control steering. (Image: Ntando Thukwana/Business Insider South Africa)

The forklift cabs are named after some of the group’s highest-selling stores in different countries, such as Bondi in Australia, Airport Junction in Botswana, Mall of Africa, and V&A in South Africa.

cotton on forklift cabs
The forklift cabs are named after the group's highest-selling stores in different countries. (Image: Ntando Thukwana/Business Insider South Africa)
cotton on
The forklift cabs are named after the group's highest-selling stores in different countries. (Image: Ntando Thukwana/Business Insider South Africa)
cotton on forklift cabs
The forklift cabs are named after the group's highest-selling stores in different countries. (Image: Ntando Thukwana/Business Insider South Africa)

It has a multi-level mezzanine with a unitised picking system for its store, wholesale, and eCommerce orders. 

cotton stock in its mezzanine
The multilevel mezzanine with product units. (Image: Ntando Thukwana/Business Insider South Africa)
cotton on products and stock in its mezzanine
The multilevel mezzanine with product units. (Image: Ntando Thukwana/Business Insider South Africa)
cotton on stock in its mezzanine
The multilevel mezzanine with product units. (Image: Ntando Thukwana/Business Insider South Africa)

Once products are picked from the mezzanine, they are placed in pick boxes, essentially a customer’s order. They then get sent down a conveyor belt to a robotic machine that moves the orders to the packing tables, where the order is packed in a box.

cotton on
The products are picked then sent down a conveyor belt for order packing. (Image: Ntando Thukwana/Business Insider South Africa)
cotton on
The order are packed and finalised in the final stages of the ecommerce phase. (Image: Ntando Thukwana/Business Insider South Africa)
cotton on
The order are packed and finalised in the final stages of the ecommerce phase. (Image: Ntando Thukwana/Business Insider South Africa)


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