How we moved 27 people, 1 km of shelving, 140,000 stock units and an inflatable dolphin to our new warehouse

NHBS has been based in Wills Road and Burke Road (named for the explorers of the 1860 Burke and Wills expedition in Australia) in the Devon town of Totnes since 1986. We had long outgrown these warehouse and office premises and had been keeping an eye open for a new building for several years. In January 2014 an ideal building became available and the best news was that it’s just around the corner at 1-6 The Stables in Ford Road (the area that now comprises Totnes’ trading estate was once a racecourse, hence ‘The Stables’).

The new NHBS presmises

A photo gallery of move-related images is available on our Facebook page.

This new building more than doubles our storage space to in excess of 1,200 sq m (13,000 sq ft). We’ve outfitted a purpose-built office area, meeting rooms, shower facilities for the dedicated cyclists/runners, a faster data connection, a staff room and kitchen, 600 m of new shelving, a more efficient heating system and a large pallet racking zone for >100 pallets of bulk stock.

After three months of building work the move to this premises was concluded just before Christmas. We had lots of extra NHBS staff on hand and remained fully operational, delivering thousands of gifts during the holiday period.

Here is some extra information if you’re interested:

How did you do this while remaining fully operational in the run up to Christmas? That is a good question…

  • We spent six weeks having the site converted from a factory/warehouse complex into a warehouse/office.
  • New heating, electrics, security, fire safety and CCTV systems were installed.
  • Data cabling for desk areas, servers and high-speed wifi were set-up.
  • On the first weekend of November we moved the office and office staff into the new premises. From then on all Customer Services and other office functions were operating from The Stables (albeit with a lot of running back-and-forth).
  • We moved a significant proportion of NHBS stock from its shelves in the warehouse onto super-organised temporary shelving in the old office area including lots of makeshift storage locations.
  • The Goods Inward and Dispatch Team put away stock and picked/packed orders from the temporary storage locations. Mild chaos ensued but almost nothing went missing.
  • An external warehouse (Unit 1) at our new site was fitted-out with pallet racking for 100 pallets. Training began on the Mini Bendi forklift.
  • The warehouse shelving was taken apart where possible and large sections were carried from the old warehouse to the new in pyramid-building style.
  • 600 m of new shelving was assembled and placed alongside reconfigured existing shelves.
  • Bulk stock was moved on pallets to Unit 1.
  • Over several epic weekends NHBS staff (earning 370.75 hours of overtime) moved stock from our old location onto shelves at The Stables. All stock was scanned into storage locations with new handheld barcode scanners so the database knows exactly where every single item is.
  • By mid-December all NHBS staff were working from The Stables.
  • A vast number of remaining shelf units, stock items, and odds & ends were shuttled across in the last two weeks of 2014.

Why didn’t you move at a quieter time of year?
Surveys and the legal bits took ages. Besides, we have quite a few peak periods throughout the year so there was never going to be a ‘good’ time to do the move.

How far are your new premises from the old building?
140 m as the crow flies (300 m if you can’t fly).

What’s the new address?
NHBS, 1-6 The Stables, Ford Road, Totnes, Devon, TQ9 5LE, UK.

Does NHBS’ phone number or email address change?
Our phone number (+44 1803 865913) and email address ( are the same.

How does it affect customers?
We’ll have more stock, more efficient picking/packing and even happier colleagues.

How many stock items have been moved?
Depends how you count the small things like test tubes and sampling pots, and components of sets etc. The number we mostly refer to is 140,000 items.

What’s a Mini Bendi?
It’s a species of forklift truck (there a photo of the Bendi in our Facebook Gallery) – we bought one for the move and have two members of staff trained to use it. It means we can make more use of pallet racking to store bulk stock.

What the reviewers say about Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction

“A Silent Spring of our time” – T.C. Boyle

“…a cogent overview of a harrowing biological challenge.” – Barry Lopez, author of Arctic Dreams

“A remarkable addition to the literature of our haunted epoch” – Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature and Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet

“I tore through Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction with a mix of awe and terror.” – Dava Sobel, author of Longitude and A More Perfect Heaven

“…an important book full of love and loss” – David Quammen, author of Spillover

The Sixth Extinction will be published in February 2014

The Sixth Extinction jacket image















Ten Summer Holiday Reads from NHBS

These ten books should see you through even the longest flight or a prolonged lounge on the beach. I’m taking Narwhals and Darwin’s Ghosts on holiday and can’t wait to get started. I hope you enjoy reading this list as much as I enjoyed making it. Leave a comment with your own suggestions for summer holiday reads.

Feral jacket image

Feral: Searching for Enchantment on the Frontiers of Rewilding

Read this if you think we all need a deeper connection to wilderness and bears roaming our woodlands.


Darwin's Ghosts jacket imageDarwin’s Ghosts: In Search of the First Evolutionists

Brave biologists whose early theories hinted at evolution by natural selection.


Gifts of the Crow jacket imageGifts of the Crow: How Perception, Emotion, and Thought Allow Smart Birds to Behave Like Humans

The incredibly intelligent corvids – read this if you need some help with your holiday sudoku.


52 Wildlife Weekends jacket image52 Wildlife Weekends: A Year of British Wildlife-Watching Breaks

If you haven’t booked all your holiday yet and need some inspiration.


The Species Seekers jacket imageThe Species Seekers: Heroes, Fools, and the Mad Pursuit of Life on Earth

The globe-trotting kleptomaniac naturalists whose collections laid the foundations for much of our understanding of biodiversity.


The Nature Tracker's Handbook jacket imageThe Nature Tracker’s Handbook

Involve all the family in identifying the wildlife tracks and signs you encounter on your travels.


Narwhals jacket imageNarwhals: Arctic Whales in a Melting World

Meet the mysterious narwhal; creature of myth and legend.


A Sting in the Tale jacket imageA Sting in the Tale

A passionate story of the bumblebee and inspiring efforts to understand and protect them.


Wild Hares & Hummingbirds jacket imageWild Hares & Hummingbirds: The Natural History of an English Village

An intimate book about the magic of immersing yourself in the annual cycle of your local wildlife.


How to Draw & Paint Birds jacket imageHow to Draw & Paint Birds: Learn to Draw a Variety of Amazing Birds Step by Step

Wouldn’t your field notebook look better with illustrations?

The NHBS Batalogue 2012 – available now

NHBS Batalogue 2012The Batalogue is our annual catalogue of bat detectors and accessories for bat work and bat groups. There are hundreds of products and accessories to choose from, along with detailed specifications and comparison charts.

How to get the Batalogue

Option #1  Browse the Batalogue online

Option #2 Call (+44 (0) 1803 865913), or email us, for a free printed copy

The Metropolitan Field Guide reviews Crow Planet

Crow Planet

This book cleverly manages to blend personal stories with the natural history of crows and the wilderness of the city in a very entertaining read. No matter whether you’re a naturalist, urbanite, suburbanite or already an urban naturalist, this book will undoubtedly introduce you to some idea you never considered before.More…

Read the full review of Crow Planet: Essential Wisdom from the Urban Wilderness at The Metropolitan Field Guide. It’s one of our favourite wildlife blogs – an excellent resource on urban wildlife and ecology.

Five Reasons to Buy Trees of Panama and Costa Rica

Trees of Panama and Costa Rica

“This is an impressive tour-de-force of tropical plant identification. The lively writing is accessible to nonspecialists, while the broad taxonomic coverage and authoritative species descriptions make this guide useful to professional botanists.” – Brad Boyle, University of Arizona

  1. The only tree guide to cover Panama and Costa Rica together
  2. Covers almost 500 species
  3. Contains 438 high-resolution photographs
  4. Includes 480 colour distribution maps
  5. There are concise and jargon-free descriptions of key characteristics for every species

Richard Condit is a staff scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama. Rolando Pérez is chief botanist and Nefertaris Daguerre is a forest specialist with the Center for Tropical Forest science at the STRI.

Internal imageInternal imageInternal image

Browse the NHBS Festive Catalogue

Browse the NHBS Catalogue below, or (download as a .pdf document 5.9MB).

We’re offering a free gift to all customers this Christmas.

Order from NHBS before 12th December 2010 and get a FREE set of 4 Luxury Wildlife Greetings Cards (worth £4.99) featuring pictures from Robert Gillmor and Andrew Haslen. Sets of cards will automatically be added to your order when processed by NHBS.

Fifty Plants that Changed the Course of History

Fifty Plants that Changed the Course of HistoryFifty Plants that Changed the Course of History

From the crops that have fed billions of people over the centuries to the plants highly regarded for their medicinal qualities, this fascinating offering from garden expert Bill Laws unearths the stories behind some of the world’s best-known plants. The plants are assessed by their influence in the categories of edible, medicinal, practical and commerical, allowing the reader to discover how each of the fifty featured plants has earnt its right to be regarded as changing the course of history. Fifty Plants that Changed the Course of History draws upon some fascinating sources from ancient wall paintings to old Japanese wood blocks, depicting traditional methods of harvesting and preparing crops.

Our favourite plant from this book? Coffee

Coffea arabica – black gold. Thought to have been brought to the West by Marco Polo in the 13th Century, coffee is an economic, cultural and social phenomenon without parallel globally… and particularly in the office at NHBS.

Fifty Plants that Changed the Course of History

Reed and Bush Warblers in stock at NHBS

Reed and Bush WarblersReed and Bush Warblers has just arrived at NHBS.

This detailed and comprehensive identification guide follows in the mould of “Sylvia Warblers” and “Pipits and Wagtails“. It primarily covers the genera Acrocephalus, Locustella, Cettia and Bradypterus together with a few smaller related genera.

Peter Kennerley & David Pearson’s authoritative handbook covers warbler identification in considerable detail, illustrated with line drawings, sonograms, colour plates and photographs. It is destined to become the ultimate reference for these challenging birds.

Reed and Bush Warblers

The Skeptical Environmentalist is back with Smart Solutions to Climate Change

Bjørn Lomborg shot to fame with The Skeptical Environmentalist in 2001, a book which generated a great deal of interest from scientists and the media alike. The debate which followed focused on Lomborg’s general assertion that much of what environmentalists claimed was not nearly as bad as they reported. FromThe Skeptical Environmentalist jacket image pollution to public health, and the extinction of biodiversity to climate change, Lomborg offered analysis to show a better than feared picture. Several books since (e.g. The Lomborg Deception) have taken Lomborg to task over his methods and choice of data, and much has been made, particularly by the climate deniers, of his dismissive coverage of global warming.

Well… following on from The Skeptical Environmentalist, and his later book Cool It, he’s back to answer his critics with a new edited book on our response to climate change. Smart Solutions to Climate Change takes catastrophic climate change as a starting point. “I am saying what I have always said” says Lomborg, “that the climate is a real and important, man-made problem, but that we are Smart Solutions to Climate Change jacket imagehandling it badly”. A panel of authors (economists – including three Nobel laureates) examine a range of policy and technology responses to climate change and suggest we change emphasis – shifting away from a Kyoto/Copenhagen focus on reducing emissions, and instead invest $100 billion in new technology funded by a carbon tax.

This is an in-depth and fairly technical read, but thought provoking and accessible. No matter what your views on Lomborg, he is now addressing what many see as a looming reality – that we are not making anywhere near enough progress in responding to climate change, and that even building on what’s already been started will not fix the problem.