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Thomas Graham and Sons

Link 51 delivers a storage solution for Thomas Graham and Sons’ Multi Million Pound Expansion.

Beginning life in 1892 as an ironmonger, Thomas Graham & Sons Ltd is one of Cumbria’s largest steel stockholders and industrial supplies merchants. Supplying companies throughout the UK, the business employs 150 staff across the North West of England.

The company’s impressive portfolio of stock includes: Hand Tools, Power Tools, Fasteners, Abrasives, Cutting tools, Welding, Metrology, Hardware, Fittings, Paints, Oils, Lubricants, PPE and Safety Equipment. The company operates a same day/next day service via a fleet of vehicles locally or via carrier for national deliveries.

Stock ranges in mild steel consist of heavy section (columns, beams, joist, etc.), flats, angles, hollow sections, plates and reinforcing materials. Alongside these ranges they also supply stainless, aluminium, bright (mild & high tensile), expanded metal, perforated sheets, welded mesh and hand railing products.


The Brief

In 2013 and due to ongoing growth, Thomas Graham & Sons signed a deal to consolidate and streamline their operation. With distribution depots at Egremont, Kendal and Morecambe, Cumbria, a headquarters at Shaddongate and a stock holding warehouse at Dalston, Carlisle, the deal involved moving to a bigger site at Kingmoor Park, a greenfield industrial development area to the north of Carlisle.

Central to the multi-million pound project was the relocation of the company’s industrial supplies into a 38,000 sq ft warehouse premises, providing 50% extra capacity on their previous location, as well as offices and a trade counter. In addition to the warehouse the company had also purchased 8 acres of land on the same site, on which and following planning applications, they constructed a 75,000 sq ft warehouse to accommodate steel stocks.

According to managing director, Roger Smith, “The expansion project will streamline our operations and maximise the resulting efficiencies whilst our customers will benefit from easier access and better distribution. There will also be an opportunity for job creation.”

In preparation for receiving and holding stock in their industrial supplies warehouse, Thomas Graham & Sons had a requirement for a storage solution that could provide a shelving system for small items, i.e. nuts and bolts and ancillary items, as well as racking for larger bulk items and pallets.

Given the quantity of stock (22,000 product lines, amounting to approx. 40,000+ items) and the need for future proofing, the company considered a tiered storage structure for the smaller items, which would be located behind the ‘shop’ counter and central to on-site trade sales.

Link 51, alongside other industrial shelving and racking suppliers, was invited to tender for the storage solution contract. Each company was asked to submit designs based on making the best use of the space available and providing the optimum number of pallet spaces to the maximum height of the building in the high bay racking area. Designs for a 2-tier storage structure for small product industrial shelving were also required.

Link 51 were successful primarily due to providing the best design solution and for being a UK based manufacturer.


The Solution

Working alongside other sub-contractors, Link 51 designed and installed:

  • A 2-tier storage structure incorporating two stairways connecting both floors.
  • Longspan shelving with 38mm chipboard decking providing 80 levels at 550mm deep, 340 levels at 600mm deep and 510 levels at 1200mm deep
  • A Narrow Aisle Pallet Racking* solution which maximised the height of the building to 10.4 metres and provided 2290 pallet spaces (based on 3 pallets per level) of open slatted timber decks, incorporating mesh panels. [*Narrow Aisle Racking makes excellent use of the storage space available by maximising the height at which goods can be stacked, and uses specialist ‘man-up’ or ‘man-down’ trucks designed to work efficiently in slim line aisles to access pallet positions.]
  • The area between the pallet racking and the shelving area included a full height anti-collapse mesh screen to provide a safe working environment.


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