Skechers Launches New High-tech Distribution Center in Tokyo, Japan

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Skechers is launching a brand new distribution center in Minato City, Tokyo, Japan that is outfitted with technology to help automate the fulfillment process.

The new center was built with technology from Hai Robotics, an automated storage and retrieval systems provider, as well as with support from material handling consulting company MHE Solutions, Inc.

These investments are meant to help Skechers cater to the growing demand of the Japanese market while implementing an automated process for order fulfillment.

Via the Hai Robotics’ HaiPick system, Skechers is able to automate some of the distribution process, making the company less vulnerable to labor shortages in the market. The technology also reduces the physical demand on employees while boosting overall productivity.

“We are honored to help Skechers elevate the operations in their new facility and be a key part in the facility’s ability to quickly reach their customers,” said Brian Reinhart, chief revenue officer at Hai Robotics U.S.A. “We are grateful for the trust that MHE and Skechers have placed in us and thrilled with the success seen so far.

We will continue to work closely with MHE Solutions and Skechers to further support their warehouse automation journey and help them go above and beyond in their operational efficiency goals.”

The HaiPick System stretches 139,705 square feet within the facility and includes 69 HaiPick autonomous case-handling mobile robots (ACRs), which navigate the warehouse’s shelving system “for maximum order-batching efficiency,” a release said.

After the HaiPick System’s robots retrieve containers from shelves, they deliver them to eight workstations staffed by human operators, who scan and confirm orders to be fulfilled.

“All automation projects have their challenges, but the Hai team has been a very good partner in maintaining a positive, can-do attitude and remaining committed to doing the right thing for the customer by delivering on their design,” said Sophie Houtmeyers, vice president of distribution operations at Skechers and Michael Pitt, MHE Solutions, in a statement.

“The Hai ACR system facilitated creative application to maximize both utilization of the warehouse floor space and hard-to-reach vertical storage space in a challenging Japanese warehousing design caused by strict fire codes. It has additionally provided productivity gains that are key to the growth of Skechers in the Japan market.”

Skechers earlier this month reported sales in line with its expectations for the fourth quarter and full year of 2023, but reported a slowdown in its wholesale channels. The Los Angeles-based footwear company reported Q4 sales of $1.96 billion, up 4.4 percent compared to the prior year.

Net earnings were $87.2 million, with diluted earnings per share of 56 cents, up 16.7 percent from the prior year. The sales total was in line with Skechers’ projection of between $1.91 billion and $2.01 billion, though profits surpassed the company’s projected range of 40 cents to 50 cents.

In the Asia Pacific region, which includes Japan, Q4 sales increased 15 percent year-over-year to $622 million, which was driven by “by double-digit growth in most markets,” Skechers’ chief financial officer John Vandemore said in a call with analysts.

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