El Corte Inglés turns department store into distribution centre

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El Corte Inglés is converting one of its department stores in northern Spain into a fulfilment centre for online orders. The department store chain wants to serve the entire Basque Country and is also focusing on food deliveries.


Digital innovation project

El Corte Inglés is to close its department store in Eibar, roughly in the centre of the triangle formed by the Basque Country's largest cities Bilbao, San Sebastian and Vitoria-Gasteiz: the chain is turning the entire department store into a warehouse for online orders, focusing on food and groceries.


It is the first branch to become part of the chain's major digital innovation project. El Corte Inglés wants to focus fully on e-commerce, especially for food, and is therefore thoroughly reviewing its real estate portfolio. Several less profitable stores will be closing, including one in Barcelona, while a number of office buildings and logistics centres will be put up for sale.


A 'product-free store'

The Eibar store, in which the group invested 80 million euros just ten years ago, will be ready for use within the next few months. The warehouse will contain 25,000 different products, news site Brainsre.news reports, but the premises will also become a service centre. Digital customer and support services will be centralised on-site, both for the company and for third parties, including telecom operator Sweno of which El Corte Inglés is a co-founder.


Nevertheless, consumers will still be able to visit the former department store: part of the shopping centre will become a proper 'digital store'. Customers will not be able to see the products as such, but can consult online catalogues, place orders and check the availability of goods in neighbouring department stores.