The Right Brew

T. Brewer & Co has expanded its Clapham operation with the help of handling specialist Hi-Store. Long-established T.Brewer & Co has been determined to increase the volume of its business by, among other things, significantly upgrading the quality of the service it offers without, of course, harming the margins.

Everything the company planned had to be generated from the same two sites it had always occupied. There was no possibility of further expansion of the Clapham site with the Eurostar railway on one long side of the site and Brewer’s access road on the other, plus each short end was constrained by its neighbours. Being in central London, where its main customer base is, Brewer faced a ‘Catch 22’ situation. It needed to be close to its customers, but also needed more room.

Brewer’s main business is supplying mouldings and other timber products to refurbishment and development contracts. Customers find it easy to buy standard timber sections but much harder, when renovating old buildings, to obtain the increasingly popular decorative profiles used in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries, especially where time is of the essence.

Brewer knew that the ability to offer exactly what the customer wants in rapid order was the key to new business. With its new machinery and systems, an order placed by 3pm one day could be manufactured from stock held at Clapham and delivered within three days. All stock items can be delivered on the next working day.

The machinery, software and computers already existed to fulfil this need. Now what was essential was to enable the timber to flow through the production process. Obviously stock had to be on site. Not only that it had to be accessible. Fast order picking is crucial and all this meant that a dramatic increase in high quality, high strength cantilever racking was essential, otherwise the quart would never come out of the pint pot.

Storage and handling specialists, Hi-Store, was selected for its cantilever racking system together with associated products, such as ‘A’ Frames.

Weather protection was also needed and so roofs, rack end protection, rainwater goods and site drainage all had to be catered for. The need to keep these high quality products dry is vital: not only do discerning customers take a dim view of wet wood, it is much more difficult to machine.  With growth and expansion on such a congested site, it  required great teamwork between the two companies to keep the site running smoothly while the installation proceeded. Brewer is delighted to announce that this complex work proceeded smoothly, on time and on budget. And, of course, there are further plans for systematically squeezing more product and equipment into every last corner of this valuable Clapham property.

For example, in an ideal world, a rack with product on the base and the three levels above will have the bottom two levels for picking and the upper two for overstock. While this is still an ambition for Brewer, the company is so busy at these premises that all four levels often have to be used for picking.

At last, all product is under cover and stock, despite the increased volumes, is still turned over on a monthly basis.  Interestingly, Brewer has achieved this while maintaining its policy of doing business up to a quality, rather than down to a price.


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“Hi-Store acted as the lynchpin for the project, working closely with Homebase, architectural design consultants, structural engineers and the main shop fitting contractors.

Homebase's image and products are all important and the mezzanine floor is cleverly integrated into the existing building design."

Project Manager, Homebase