Equestrian retailer in £1.6m investment in new warehouse and renewable energy

Old Mill Saddlery managing director Robert Patton with Mark Brown, business acquisition manager at Danske Bank. Picture: Kelvin Boyes/PressEye

EQUESTRIAN retailer Old Mill Saddlery has invested £1.6 million to build a new warehouse with cutting-edge robotic sorting technology and construct a new wind turbine at its site in Carrickfergus.

The investment, part-funded by Danske Bank, will assist with continued growth at the company, established in 1985 and which has become one of the UK’s leading equestrian retailers.

Supplying horse tack, such as saddles and bridles, horse-care and grooming products, riding wear and more, the company has welcomed top customers worldwide in disciplines such as racing, eventing, dressage and showjumping.

During the pandemic, Old Mill Saddlery saw its sales increase, and to meet increased demand, the business has invested in a second warehouse fitted with state-of-the-art picking and sorting technology from Geek+, the first of its kind in the island of Ireland.

Geek+ builds smart AI autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) designed to handle picking, sorting and industrial material handling for warehouse automation. The smart warehouse system is used by well-known companies such as Nike, Asda and Next.

The new wind turbine allows Old Mill Saddlery to harness the power of the wind and generate renewable electricity. The company now receives 97 per cent of its energy from renewable sources, meaning its carbon emissions are significantly reduced and the business can practice more sustainably.

Robert Patton, managing director at the saddlery, said: “The strength of our business comes from our core values, providing our customers with a quality shopping experience, outstanding customer care and selling quality products at excellent value.

“During lockdown, we struggled a lot with staffing issues as our business got increasingly busy. To ensure we were continuing to deliver the best service possible, we had to come up with a solution.

“The automated warehouse system has led our business to be more efficient than ever, ensuring we can keep up with the demand, get our products out on time and supply our goods even further afield. We mainly supply to the UK, Ireland and Europe, but we are hopeful the new system will give us the capacity to expand our business worldwide.”

Mark Brown, business acquisition manager at Danske Bank, said: “Introducing robotics into this traditional retail setting highlights Old Mill Saddlery’s commitment to innovation and excellence and will help future proof the business as it seeks to maintain its position as a leader in the industry and achieve its expansion plans.

“It’s great to see the business’s commitment to sustainability, too, and we’re delighted to have been able to support this. It’s an exciting time for Old Mill Saddlery and we look forward to supporting them as they continue to grow.”