The Co-operative Group’s GBP15m (US$21.9m) distribution depot in the north of the UK has opened for business.

The 280,000 square foot Birtley facility will operate with over 100 trucks with orders picked at a rate of 500,000 cases per week for distribution to 260 Co-operative food stores across the north.

Full operational capacity is expected to be reached in July.

Ian Smith, regional operations manager north for Co-operative Food Retail Logistics, said: “The Birtley project has been a massive team effort and we’re delighted operations are now under way at the facility which boasts a range of green features.

“The depot is key to ensuring stores continue to give Co-operative customers the high level of product availability and service they expect.”

The new building incorporates a number of energy-efficient features, including the harvesting of rainwater to be used for refrigeration and vehicle washing. Office lighting is movement triggered and has a daylight-dimming feature, which lowers its brightness depending on the level of light during the day.

The site has received an “A” rating energy performance certificate from the Government.