Monday, September 23, 2019

Warehouse Association Boss Expresses Supply Chain Concerns as Brexit Nears

Evidence of Stockpiling as IMHX Event Opens
Shipping News Feature

UK – As the IMHX 2019 show, one of the UK's biggest logistics events, starts its run at the NEC in Birmingham, Peter Ward, chief executive of the UK Warehousing Association (UKWA) once again expressed his concerns over the continuity of the country's supply chain with Brexit looming ever closer.

Ward’s comments come as a survey undertaken on behalf of IMHX has revealed that 63% of logistics and supply chain managers predict the general public will panic buy and stockpile goods ahead of Brexit. The show is on from 24th September to Friday 27th September. Peter Ward commented:

“With the prospect of a No Deal Brexit approaching, the delayed date for withdrawal from the EU couldn’t have come at a worse time. We have clear evidence of stockpiling food and other goods, and at this time of year warehouses are habitually filling up for the traditional peak period, ramping up for the Christmas season that now includes Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

“This period has always been challenging, not just in terms of available warehousing space, but also in the recruitment and retention of the additional labour required, a situation which has been exacerbated further by Brexit and the so-called ‘Brexodus’ of Eastern Europeans from the sector since the referendum.

“Given the well-documented critical shortage of fit-for-purpose warehousing close to technology enabled consumers who shop ‘little and often’ and on-line, Brexit is fuelling a perfect storm in the warehousing and logistics sector.”

The survey, gleaned from a cross section of logistics and supply chain managers, noted that key concerns are that customs restrictions, weak GDP and increased bureaucracy following the UK's exit from the European Union will lead to a skills shortage, rising costs and consumer panic buying. Results showed:

  • 63% predict British shoppers will panic buy and stockpile food and other goods
  • 61% think No Deal Brexit will have a detrimental effect on British businesses and the wider economy
  • 49% think a No Deal Brexit will contribute even further to the existing skills shortage within the logistics industry
  • 82% say businesses should counter the skills shortage in logistics industry by encouraging more young people to work in the industry with better education at school and university level
  • 79% are worried about the additional time and costs moving goods in and out of the UK
  • 77% are concerned about increased bureaucracy when importing and exporting goods
  • 59% are worried about restrictions on customs and imports
  • 58% believe there will be a disruption to the food supply chain leading to increases in prices of certain fresh produce
  • 70% say increased use of Automation, AI/Robotics a good thing for the logistics industry and provides a solution to the current skills shortage in the UK
  • 82% say the rise in e-commerce is killing physical shops, signalling the death of the high street and putting additional pressure on the logistics and supply-chain infrastructure
IMHX event director Rob Fisher commented:

“The lack of clarity and uncertainty that still plagues Brexit continues to cause angst amongst the logistics industry. A No Deal Brexit could still be a reality on 31st October, despite the passing of a bill to make it unlawful. If this happens, the logistics and supply chain industry predicts a chaotic outlook with the public panic buying and stockpiling food and other goods.

"The logistics industry is the backbone of the British economy, feeding into the retail industry, which is the UK’s biggest private sector employer. If anyone knows what they are talking about, these guys do, and I fear their concerns are more than justified.”