John Lewis Direct has signed a five-year extension to its e-fulfilment contract with iForce, which will see the specialist logistics operator continue to provide 'e-fulfilment' for John Lewis online retail until 2012.

The contract extension will see operations transfer from its existing base at Bromford Gate in Birmingham to a brand new 238,000 sq ft centre in Redditch, which provides an increased capacity to scale operations as the business growth continues.

Robert McCarthy, managing director, John Lewis Direct, said: "This is an important step forward in the fulfilment capability for John Lewis Direct.

"Developing further our successful relationship with iForce will enable us to drive forward continuous service improvements for our customers whilst also effectively managing the challenges of growth and increasing scale.

"This solution will operate alongside and compliment our other DC fulfilment routes."

To ensure operations continue seamlessly, iForce will be taking its experienced Bromford Gate staff to the new facility and will also be employing new staff. The warehouse, the largest in Redditch, will make iForce the town's biggest employer in this industry sector.

Operations at Redditch are due to start at the end of September.

John Lewis Direct is the internet and catalogue arm of John Lewis department stores and is one of the fastest growing parts of the John Lewis business. It aims to be the UK's leading direct selling retailer in its core product areas of homewares, gifts and electrical/technology products.

IForce was originally selected by John Lewis Direct to be its e-fulfilment partner in October 2001 in what was one of the largest e-fulfilment projects awarded by a UK retailer to date.

Since operations started in January 2002 the project has been hugely successful, with the team at Bromford Gate handling a staggering 66 per cent year-on-year growth in customer order volumes, accompanied by a 30 per cent year-on-year growth in product lines.