Brexit – Warning of Warehouse shortages

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New Prime Minister Boris Johnson has made it quite clear that he intends for the UK to leave the EU by 31 October 2019 and has warned businesses to make the necessary preparations for that departure to come without a deal in place.

However, those firms taking him at his word and seeking to stockpile goods to combat possible shortages if supply lines between the UK and EU are interrupted, face a major problem.

The head of the United Kingdom Warehousing Association (UKWA) has warned: “Warehouses in the UK are currently running at almost full capacity, with little prospect of more space becoming available in the short term.”

Peter Ward pointed out that those looking for space to stockpile are seeking short-term capacity only, supported by a full suite of logistics services.
“What is needed right now,” he went on, “is fit-for-purpose facilities complete with racking, forklifts, warehouse management technology — and, of course, people — all ready to go on a pay as you play basis. Such operational and fully kitted and serviced space is in desperately short supply.”

Before 29 March, a survey of UKWA members revealed that 85% of respondents had received Brexit-related enquiries — mostly for short term requirements, while 75% had filled incremental space, and were “full”.

UKWA plans a further survey over the coming weeks but, according to Mr Ward, it is unlikely any additional space will have become available — if anything, he expects the position to have worsened.

He also highlighted that the October deadline could not have come at a worse time as warehouses are already filling up for the Christmas season that now includes Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Mr Ward also pointed to staff shortages caused by the so-called Brexodus of Eastern Europeans from the sector since the 2016 referendum.

Source: Last reviewed 31 July 2019 Copyright © 2019 Croner-i Ltd