Greggs Balliol National Distribution Centre

Greggs’ state-of-the-art automated DC – a 32m high, 40,000 sq. ft. hypoxic automated freezer extension – thaws out frozen storage capacity issues.


From initial concept through to end of cutover, Hatmill worked to scope, project manage and deliver Greggs new, state-of-the-art £26m Balliol National Distribution Centre.

The facility consolidated Greggs’ legacy network of 4 external storage sites into a single, purpose-built national Distribution Centre and is estimated to save 7% of total mileage a year in transport emissions.

The automated DC comprises an automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS) operating in a lights out hypoxic environment at -20°C across 9 storage levels with an internal height of up to 23m. The new DC also provides a modern office space and welfare facilities for the team operating the automated facility.

The Hatmill project including scoping, tendering and then overseeing the workstream leads, automation supplier, principal contractor, building design team, insurers and WMS consultancy, was delivered at the height of the COVID pandemic.

Setting the scene:

Greggs was experiencing significant business growth and restructuring their manufacturing network. They asked Hatmill to support in a solution to their capacity constraints; 80% of Greggs storage was in third party warehouses, requiring excessive trunking prior to store delivery.

Hatmill’s objectives were to evaluate and test a range of potential solutions to put forward a business case for the optimal solution and upon sign-off of the business case, project manage the build, implementation and cutover.

Hatmill scoped and delivered the innovative facility system against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic triggering significant stakeholder and supply challenges.

The Hatmill plan in brief:

  • Assess a comprehensive range of potential solutions
  • Build a detailed model with 8 different options measured by OPEX and CAPEX with an output ROI
  • Run a thorough tender process with a wide selection of the market for both the automation and building
  • Take the Board through the recommendations for formal sign-off of the new freezer extension
  • Project manage all elements of the build, implementation and cutover


What makes this project unique?

In a frozen storage facility operating at -20oc, a conventional fire extinguishing system, such as sprinklers isn’t feasible.

Working with the building design team, Hatmill identified, scoped and managed the delivery of a proactive fire prevention system –  hypoxic air technology (also known as oxygen reduction systems ORS). This system reduces the volume of oxygen in the air to a level that can be set depending upon the material of the goods stored and proactively prevents a fire from occurring. With the Greggs NDC being fully-automated, operating at -20oc, there is minimal requirement for employees to enter the system. However, in the event that access is required, for example for Engineers, subject to an annual medical, it is safe to work in the environment for up to 2 hours before taking a 30-minute break.


During the project, Hatmill:

  • Understood the operation, Greggs’ growth plans and identified potential efficiencies/inefficiencies to be drawn from various operating models
  • Ran a thorough, in-depth tender process, to appoint the automation provider and principal contractor for the project.
  • Engaged multiple stakeholders from across the business and external parties to ensure all were kept informed and consulted in the down selection of options
  • Created a financial model that could be linked to the clients internal financial reporting process
  • Managed the project from initial concept through to end of cutover, overseeing the workstream leads, automation supplier, principal contractor, building design team, insurers and WMS consultancy

The outcome

  • A 32m high 40,000 sq. ft hypoxic automated freezer extension holding 14,000 pallets over 9 storage levels up to 25 pallets deep
  • Consolidation of 4 external storage facilities into the new NDC bringing 95% of frozen volume in-house


Bringing it to life 

“Throughout our time working with Hatmill, I have remained impressed with the organisation, focus and tenacity of the team, and they have been instrumental in helping our organisation reach some critical decision points. The team are engaging, personable and a pleasure to work with, and operate seamlessly alongside Greggs colleagues.” Phil Wright, Head of Logistics, Greggs

Case Studies

Our Work

How we’ve delivered improvements and outstanding results for our clients.