Cotton On South Africa has gone green at its new Waterfall campus. The company invested R300m at its new purpose built head quarters and distribution centre, now are under one roof.

Cotton On

The Australian owned company kitted the campus with a 200kWp solar power plant, LED lighting and proximity sensors to reduce energy consumption. It is also in the process of transitioning all plastic polybags to be made with recycled plastic.

I attended a media tour of the new 22 000sqm HQ that showed off a new supply chain, which it says is one of the fastest in the world. It is capable of processing 6000 e-commerce orders per day, 20 000 units to it retail network daily, and over 20 million units per year.

It uses a new “VNA” Very Narrow Aisle storage system that is 11m high and operated mechanically – and unlike anything I’ve seen before, alongside a “pick” area where items are individually hand picked for online orders, stores and wholesale. The warehouse is massive, with an additional 50% of space to cater for future online orders.

Construction began in the middle of lockdown in January 2021, and by June 2022, the company moved 2.2 million units of its stock over from its former premises in Pomona.

The company is also focusing on employee wellness, safety and a harmonious work environment, which have been a priority. Safety measures that carried over from Australia is everyone has to reverse park their vehicles – as well as any visitor to the campus, an onsite gym, and large open areas in the canteen and kitchen spaces, with natural light coming through.

Cotton On says both head office and warehouse staff get to enjoy the same facilities. It uses a facial recognition system throughout the campus. The office gym has a personal trainer available, meal delivery services, coffee machines, WiFi everywhere.

There are open workspaces and themed meeting rooms that represent each individual brand under the umbrella, like Cotton On, Kids, Typo, etc. Employees can use break out pods, sitting areas etc for meetings, calls or a break.

Natalie Wills, country manager for the Cotton On group says, “Our products are pretty magical and so is our team. The new bespoke site has been designed to deliver the best possible experience for our customers and to provide our team with a great place to work.”

“The campus was designed with a ‘People First’ culture approach, which underpins what our brand stands for, puts us in good stead to continue our excellent customer service processes, and is an extension of our commitment to making a positive impact in all areas of our business.”

The Cotton On group has eight brands, operates in 22 countries in 1400 stores, with 18 000 employees. In South Africa, Cotton On operates 167 retail outlets, including Cotton On, Cotton On Body, Cotton On Kids, Factorie and Typo stores. The company plans to expand to 300 stores in South Africa.