David Shelley set an ambitious target at official opening of the giant Hely Hutchinson centre in Oxfordshire. Hachette UK's chief executive was speaking at the official opening of Hachette's 250,000 sq.ft. Hely Hutchinson Centre in Didcot yesterday.

Hailing the building as "the best distribution center in Europe, if not the world," he said "our ambition is to deliver one in every two books distributed in the U.K." He delivered his speech in front of an audience of Hachette top brass - including Arnaud Nourry, CEO of Hachette Livre - warehouse workers and retired chiefs including David Young, Ursula Mackenzie and Tim Hely Hutchinson.

Hely Hutchinson, Shelley's predecessor, officially opened the new 250,000 sq ft facility. "I am deeply honored to have this named after me. Under one roof we have the best automated equipment in Europe, it is the culmination of a dream."

The new building, which has been gearing up to full operational capacity since last summer, can handle up to 500,000 books a day for Hachette and its third party clients, with its staff of 350 dispatching books worldwide. Currently the building contains 22 million books.
The new building replaces Hachette's former distribution operations based at Littlehampton Book Services and Bookpoint, whose warehouse, a mile from the Hely Hutchinson Centre, is being retained as a storage unit. The total cost of the project has never been revealed but it runs into the tens of millions.

A version of this story appeared in BookBrunch.