EasyLifter Case Study – Dunelm mill 2009 to 2015

“Integrating supply chain logistics with in-store merchandising”

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About Dunelm mill

Dunelm is the UK’s leading home furnishing retailer with 150 stores and over 100 in-store Pausa coffee shops, throughout the United Kingdom. Turnover in 2015 was over £835Million.

The supply chain for Dunelm consists of both domestic and international suppliers for a comprehensive range of soft furnishing, kitchenware and associated products.

dunelm mill store

In 2009, the company decided to move the supply chain to a returnable packaging solution and started investigation into the best solution for this change.  This change would see many domestic suppliers shipping products direct to Dunelm’s cross-dock operations in large folding lid containers of 1000mmx600mm footprint, capable of handling bulkier soft furnishings as well as the smaller products.

This plastic container can be handled, stacked and nested, in the logistics environment, using conventional handling equipment, however, when it reached the store, a different solution was required to ensure efficient handling, direct alongside the in-store shelf for merchandising.

M J Products were approached to work alongside the tote manufacturer and Dunelm, to develop an optimum solution for this final leg of the logistics operation.

Specifying a manual handling solution

The 1000mmx600mm footprint ‘hogbox’ folding lid container was identified as the optimum solution for Dunelm, primarily because of its large footprint, which allows handling of bulkier soft furnishings such as pillows, curtains, bedding etc.

This box can be handled in nests of 6 in the logistics supply chain. However, when it arrives a store, a means of de-stacking the boxes and delivering into the store front was required.


This is where M J Products were consulted to provide an optimum solution.

An initial study of the supply chain process identified a need to de-stack the nests of boxes at the back of store.  This could be achieved by conventional counterbalance forklift. However, this is not efficient or best safe practice due to the confined space in the small warehouse behind each store.

Once de-stacked a means of transferring the containers into store front for transfer of goods direct to shelf was required.

M J Products developed scope for a bespoke solution with the following features.

  1. De-stack boxes faster and safer than a fork lift truck
  2. Secure boxes 2 high using features which lock into the boxes for safe movement
  3. Ability to lift and lower goods to correct handling height.
  4. A design that is lightweight and easy to navigate the narrow store aisles, ensuring safety for employees and public.
  5. Simple and intuitive operation for users.
  6. No need to manually handle the plastic container containing goods.

Introducing DuoPump lifting technology

At the heart of our lifting and stacking solutions is our in-line lifting system.

Easylifter for manual handling in store

A foot operated system designed to optimise lifting performance for varying loads.  This innovative pump system combines a fast lift speed for light, medium loads, combined with conventional lift speeds for maximum payloads.

Benefits of DuoPump

  • All in-line construction for ergonomic, lightweight and compact installation
  • Hermetically sealed and maintenance free
  • Direct drive for clean, safe operation, eliminating chains, ropes and pully systems which require guarding and regular maintenance.
  • Single pedal system is used for both lifting and lowering of loads.
  • Pedal folds away when not in-use
  • Lifting speed up to a huge 150mm per pedal operation for light loads
  • Lifting capacity up to 275kg
  • Lifting range up to 1000mm in direct operation mode (2000mm indirect)

The pump lifting technology allows Dunelm to de-stack the large boxes with only 4 operations of the foot pedal, taking approximately 5 seconds to raise the fork to the second layer tote, 560mm off the ground.  A saving of over 20 seconds per de-stack operation compared to conventional foot operated lifting equipment.

MJ Products Ltd – Lifting and Handling Solution for Dunelm mill

With DuoPump at the heart of the solution, the bespoke HogBox lifter solution was developed.

Firstly, the handling equipment needed to quickly and efficiently de-stack nests of boxes in the rear of the store.

Lifting and handling solutions for uk store

The EasyLifter needed to secure boxes and easily navigate around the small rear of store warehouse and narrow aisles in the retail area.

easy lifter

MJ Products store lifting equipment

And finally, an optimum solution was required for in-store replenishment, with the ability to raise the container to the optimum picking height for the user.

Easylifter rollout to Dunelm

In 2010 Dunelm Mill initially order 440 units of our easy lifter.   Each store was equipped with 3 or 4 lifters depending on size.  Initially these were employed for internal movement of the container.

As new stores opened, Dunelm continued to purchase units.

In 2012, the company decided to increase the number of units per store by 1 or 2. Increasing the pool by a further 160 units.

By 2015, Dunelm employed over 800 units across its UK operations.   In addition, many of Dunelm’s UK based suppliers also adopted the device for their own internal logistics operations for fulfilling orders to be shipped to Dunelm’s cross-dock operation in Leicester.

Stuart Whitaker, Dunelm Logistics and National Carrier manager said that “the EasyLifter solution from M J Products has been a real success for the handling of containers at the front end of our (Dunelm) operation.”  Stuart also commented on how well the product has been received by the in-store staff to aid them in their day to day duties.

For more information on this and other applications.

Contact M J Products Ltd.