Tomorrow’s Warehouse: Analysis
there ‘may be reduced volumes for a while, but no big
That said, most people see disruption on the menu.
Covid-19 is a compounding factor, it takes current
challenges such as Peak planning and risks such as
Brexit, and makes them harder still and more complex.
Given this, I thought most readers would be keen to see
more time given to the UK warehousing and logistics
sector to prepare for Brexit. However, there was only a
very modest majority for this (44% were in favour of
more time. 32% were against taking longer. 24% were
unsure), indicating that despite the current challenges,
many people are still keen to get Brexit done, or at least
lance the boil.
One reader says ‘we know the position, and must get
on with it,’ while another respondent adds ‘I don't think
we need more time to prepare but we need better
guidance on what is going to be required and how it’s
going to work’.
Trade and policy analyst Pauline Bastidion, who has
followed the Brexit process very closely, advises against
relying on any further extensions, delays or
‘When the Covid crisis started, many trade
associations – in particular in the logistics sector –
wrote to the UK Government to ask for an extension,
however, the likelihood is close to zero as the UK
Government rejected the idea’.
This is a concern as Pauline says ‘both traders and
logistics providers have little bandwidth to focus on
anything but managing the immediate crisis’.
It is also fair to say that the pandemic has negatively
impacted Government planning, adds Pauline. ‘The
border operating model, which was initially due to be
shared with stakeholders at the end of March, was only
shared in June’.
Pauline advises: ‘3PLs and traders alike should start by
understanding how their new requirements will work in
practice, what they will need to do, when, and what
resources they’ll need to fulfil their obligations or their
clients’ obligations. The time before the end of the
transition period is short. I would assume that bonded
warehouses, for instance, will be in high demand, as will
the status of authorised consignee and consignor’.
On top of Brexit, a possible second wave of coronavirus,
and of course the run up to Black Friday and Christmas,
it isn’t going to get simpler in the warehouse, nor
indeed in the High Street. It is easy to see why many
retailers are fundamentally accelerating their online
operations. We all want to get back to the shopping
centre and High Street, but how soon will many of us
feel comfortable to do so on a regular basis? More likely
many people will avoid it, and only nip in when they
feel they must. At least until we get a vaccine or the
virus blows itself out.
Dave Howorth of SCALA thinks the uncertainty will
‘create large short-term demand, due to many
companies being uncertain of future sales levels and
therefore reluctant to make longer term commitments
until the ‘new normal’ is better understood’.
I can see a lot of sense in this, but at the same time,
many of those who have been on the brink of big
strategic shifts and investments, will be thinking, now it
is the time to press ahead.
One thing the pandemic has illustrated is how
adaptable & resilient the logistics function is in the UK.
As Gary Twynholm says ‘we have all mastered online
meetings; accepting children stropping, cats walking
across laptops and realising you’re muted after talking
for 5 minutes’. With that in mind, I’m sure we can, as an
industry, cope with what is coming next.