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How we moved 27 people, 1 km of shelving, 140,000 stock units and an inflatable dolphin to our new warehouse


NHBS has been based in Wills Road and Burke Road (named for the explorers of the 1860 Burke and Wills expedition in Australia) in the Devon town of Totnes since 1986. We had long outgrown these warehouse and office premises and had been keeping an eye open for a new building for several years. In January 2014 an ideal building became available and the best news was that it’s just around the corner at 1-6 The Stables in Ford Road (the area that now comprises Totnes’ trading estate was once a racecourse, hence ‘The Stables’).

The new NHBS presmises

A photo gallery of move-related images is available on our Facebook page.

This new building more than doubles our storage space to in excess of 1,200 sq m (13,000 sq ft). We’ve outfitted a purpose-built office area, meeting rooms, shower facilities for the dedicated cyclists/runners, a faster data connection, a staff room and kitchen, 600 m of new shelving, a more efficient heating system and a large pallet racking zone for >100 pallets of bulk stock.

After three months of building work the move to this premises was concluded just before Christmas. We had lots of extra NHBS staff on hand and remained fully operational, delivering thousands of gifts during the holiday period.

Here is some extra information if you’re interested:

How did you do this while remaining fully operational in the run up to Christmas? That is a good question…

  • We spent six weeks having the site converted from a factory/warehouse complex into a warehouse/office.
  • New heating, electrics, security, fire safety and CCTV systems were installed.
  • Data cabling for desk areas, servers and high-speed wifi were set-up.
  • On the first weekend of November we moved the office and office staff into the new premises. From then on all Customer Services and other office functions were operating from The Stables (albeit with a lot of running back-and-forth).
  • We moved a significant proportion of NHBS stock from its shelves in the warehouse onto super-organised temporary shelving in the old office area including lots of makeshift storage locations.
  • The Goods Inward and Dispatch Team put away stock and picked/packed orders from the temporary storage locations. Mild chaos ensued but almost nothing went missing.
  • An external warehouse (Unit 1) at our new site was fitted-out with pallet racking for 100 pallets. Training began on the Mini Bendi forklift.
  • The warehouse shelving was taken apart where possible and large sections were carried from the old warehouse to the new in pyramid-building style.
  • 600 m of new shelving was assembled and placed alongside reconfigured existing shelves.
  • Bulk stock was moved on pallets to Unit 1.
  • Over several epic weekends NHBS staff (earning 370.75 hours of overtime) moved stock from our old location onto shelves at The Stables. All stock was scanned into storage locations with new handheld barcode scanners so the database knows exactly where every single item is.
  • By mid-December all NHBS staff were working from The Stables.
  • A vast number of remaining shelf units, stock items, and odds & ends were shuttled across in the last two weeks of 2014.

Why didn’t you move at a quieter time of year?
Surveys and the legal bits took ages. Besides, we have quite a few peak periods throughout the year so there was never going to be a ‘good’ time to do the move.

How far are your new premises from the old building?
140 m as the crow flies (300 m if you can’t fly).

What’s the new address?
NHBS, 1-6 The Stables, Ford Road, Totnes, Devon, TQ9 5LE, UK.

Does NHBS’ phone number or email address change?
Our phone number (+44 1803 865913) and email address ( are the same.

How does it affect customers?
We’ll have more stock, more efficient picking/packing and even happier colleagues.

How many stock items have been moved?
Depends how you count the small things like test tubes and sampling pots, and components of sets etc. The number we mostly refer to is 140,000 items.

What’s a Mini Bendi?
It’s a species of forklift truck (there a photo of the Bendi in our Facebook Gallery) – we bought one for the move and have two members of staff trained to use it. It means we can make more use of pallet racking to store bulk stock.