Oct. 10—Every square inch of the DHL Bow fulfillment center is filled with wines and spirits ready to ship to the state’s 66 liquor and wine outlets and hundreds of restaurants across the state.
Recently, the company added and installed a new shelving system and shelving above the loading dock doors to increase the capacity of the building by 244,000 square feet off Route 3A. But to be more efficient and increase the product offering, the company will soon inaugurate a 27,235 square foot expansion, which will add more than 10% more space.
In total, the new space will increase the building’s capacity from 1.2 million cases to 1.4 million cases of popular products – like Tito’s craft vodka and Kendall-Jackson chardonnay – and allow workers to move more freely.
DHL Supply Chain, the world’s largest logistics company, entered into a 20-year, $200 million warehousing and transportation contract with the state Liquor Commission in 2013. The latest investment in the property is approximately $10 million.
“We maximize every square inch,” said Patrick Kerns, Managing Director.
Kerns said the new pushback rack system allows pallets to be stored at multiple depths between aisles, which has added space for around 110,000 cases. The paddles move on rollers when pulled out, much like picking up a coke bottle from a convenience store cooler.
“It allows you to fit more products in a smaller space,” he said.
While many employers across the state continue to struggle to find workers, the fulfillment center is fully staffed. The company raised wages and offered other benefits to attract new workers.
“It allows us to circulate the product through the building,” Kerns said. “We bring 27,000 to 30,000 cases a day.”
The new space is needed, especially during the holidays when there is an increase in demand.
New Hampshire Liquor Commission Chairman Joseph Mollica said the products come from all over the world and are ordered months in advance. The state does not own the product until it is on its way to store shelves.
Over the past two decades, the Liquor Commission has grown sales from $332 million to a record $801 million in fiscal 2021.
Fiscal 2022 sales fell to $771.1 million, which was expected after a banner year at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Profit was $172.6 million.
Mollica said the commission knew it would be difficult to compete with “COVID year”.
“Those were high numbers, but sales are doing well,” he said. “Every time we open a new store, we see incredible exponential growth. Somewhere between 15 and 30 percent.”
As part of an initiative launched in 2012, stores are being renovated or moved to new locations to develop the brand. The commission held a grand opening and ribbon cutting for its new location on Manchester’s Gold Street last week.
Often the small shops in the squares have been transformed into free-standing buildings. This is done at the Nashua outlet on Northwest Boulevard, where a former Pier 1 Imports is being expanded for a new 14,000 square foot outlet.
“We are legally responsible for maximizing revenue and that’s what we’re here to do,” Mollica said.
The biggest efforts over the past decade have been to further establish a brand and now the focus is on increasing technology for online ordering, in which orders can be picked up in-store or in street edge. Eventually, orders will ship directly to homes here in Granite State.
“I knew we were achieving this when people stopped saying to us, ‘Why are you changing my liquor store?’ and I changed it to ‘when,'” Mollica said.
The new stores are strategically placed near busy stores such as Walmart or Market Basket.
The commission is also looking to sell land to a developer off Interstate 95 in Hampton to build new outlets on the north and south lanes to include similar visitor centers in Hooksett.
“We are in the final stages of working with the city,” Mollica said.
The commission is also working to make employee salaries more competitive.
Kerns said DHL looks forward to the next 10 years of its agreement with the state. In the meantime, he will take on a new role as Greg Featherston is expected to take over as general manager.
The commission currently offers 13,000 different products, and the new expansion will help the liquor commission grow its brand by providing more choice, Kerns said.
“The state of New Hampshire has the best variety of produce of any control state,” he said.