170 delegates attending this year’s UK Warehousing Association conference on March 3-4 were told to ‘be curious, be innovative, be disruptors,’ as 25 expert speakers from across the industry considered ‘Next Generation Logistics’, describing the changes ahead and debating exciting new opportunities on offer for 3PLs in a series of interactive panel discussions.
Industry growth set to continue
The conference was opened on a positive note by UKWA CEO Peter Ward, who highlighted the continued growth of the industry. He said that the newly published report, ‘Delivering The Goods 2020’ by the British Property Foundation predicted significant further growth over the coming 20 years, with the doubling of online spending, 43% increase in productivity and a requirement for 21m sq ft of warehousing every year for the next 20 years.
Key speaker Eleanor Winton of Foresightfully set the futuristic scene, outlining likely population growth and demographic changes, as well as noting that high on the risk agenda for next year would be the issues of infection control and climate change. “Failure to adapt and change for the future will mean going out of business,” she warned.
Good news for UK
Good news was in store from speakers Walter Boettcher Director of Research & Forecasting at Colliers International and Logistics Analyst Will Laing of Savills.
Walter said that the ‘mood music’ had changed and that greater tax and regulatory certainty had led to the biggest ‘bounce’ in PMIs since the referendum. ‘Orders are up, hirings are up, the economic outlook is up!” he affirmed, telling delegates that technology, not politics, is the real disruptor.
Will added that online sales is a key demand driver for real estate, citing that every billion euros spent online generates a requirement for 775,000 sq ft of extra warehouse space, with 50m sq ft taken by retailers in 2019. “Take up is strong with 3PLs’ take up rising sharply,” he said. “We expect this strong market to continue.”
Conference delegates seemed to share the positive outlook, with an overwhelming 81% voting in a live poll that they felt more optimistic about the outlook for their business compared to this time last year, and 78% confirming that they are likely to increase their warehousing footprint within the next 12 months.