We went to the VF distribution facility on Monday, which is located just a few kilometers outside of Prague.
We were greeted by Alex Fiala, who gave a short presentation on what they do at the VF distribution center. We learned there are three distribution centers in Europe and that each center distributes specific brands throughout Europe. At the Czech center they handle the Lee, Wrangler, Napapijri, Reef and Vans brands.
Alex handed us off to Tomasz who showed us around the distribution center. This was a huge building that does not have air-conditioning. We asked about the summer heat and Tomasz explained that the center is open everyday of the year (except for Christmas), 24 hours a day. When the temperature reaches 30 Celsius the workers receive an extra 15 minute break, but they have to continue working in the heat.
Everything is tracked by a barcode that is attached to each box and each garment inside the box. The barcode is checked, rechecked and checked again. Tomasz said that it was very unusual to send the wrong items in a shipment because the barcodes are scanned so many times.
Boxes come to the distribution center mainly from Asia, because the cost to make the garments there is so much less expensive. The boxes are stored in “random storage” until they are needed for an order. The needed boxes then go to the picking section where a “picker” (a person) picks from the boxes the specific order for the customer, for example 3 size 34/32 pair of Lee jeans and 7 Wrangler size medium women’s shirts. After the order is picked the box goes to scanning where a “scanner” (a person) makes sure the order is correct. If it is, it goes either directly to shipping or to pricing if a special pricing tag is required by the country.
The orders then are loaded onto a truck to go customers throughout Europe. The entire process usually takes 24 to 72 hours. I was amazed at how organized the process seemed to be and the amount of labor that was required to get the product from the producer to the customer.
Written by: Candace Hrozencik