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Canadian Tire’s super-sized distribution

Canada’s largest retailer has built the country’s largest distribution center, handling enough product to fill more than 22,000 trailers a year.
By Bob Trebilcock, Executive Editor
November 19, 2010

Despite its name, no tires are actually stored at Canadian Tire’s 1.5-million-square-foot facility in Montreal. However, a high-speed conveyor, wedge merge and sliding shoe sortation system Intelligrated, keeps enough product rolling through Canada’s largest distribution center—up to 55 million cubic feet per year, according to how Canadian Tire measures throughput—to fill 22,000 trailers a year with product.

The facility, which went live in January 2009, was designed to create a new distribution model for Canadian Tire, Canada’s largest retailer. “In the past, we approached distribution from a centralized model, with a major DC in Calgary and two in Brampton, Ontario,” says Dan Chan, vice president of supply chain for major products. “With this facility, we have moved to a more regionalized model for general merchandise.”

And, at 1.5 million square feet, the facility was also designed to create more distribution space for a company that has traditionally relied on third-party warehousing to supplement its needs. When fully operational, the facility will employ 600 full-time employees and 300 part-time employees, depending on the season, with room to grow as the economy improves and the retailer’s sales grow.

About the Author

Bob Trebilcock
Executive Editor

Bob Trebilcock, executive editor, has covered materials handling, technology and supply chain topics for Modern Materials Handling since 1984. More recently, Trebilcock became editorial director of Supply Chain Management Review. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, Trebilcock lives in Keene, NH. He can be reached at 603-357-0484.

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