City centre blues

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It’s almost ten years since I was invited down to Bristol for the launch of the Broadmead Freight Consolidation Scheme – an innovative approach to city centre deliveries initiated by Bristol City Council and run by Exel Logistics (which went on to become part of DHL).

Within just a few weeks, the scheme resulted in a 51 per cent reduction in delivery vehicle movements serving participating retailers in and around the city’s Broadmead Shopping Centre.

The Bristol Freight Consolidation Scheme initially recruited ten retailers including Lush, Monsoon, Tie Rack and Accessorize, and Bristol City Council selected Exel to implement and manage the consolidation centre for a trial period of eight months.

Not only is the scheme still going, it has been extended to take in Bath, and DHL Supply Chain now delivers to 115 businesses. The consolidation centre, located in Avonmouth near the M5/M4 motorways, has reduced the number of urban deliveries by 80 per cent and achieved a 130 tonne reduction in CO2 emissions through the use of two electric trucks. DHL reckons that in June 2013, 97 trucks travelled into the consolidation centre carrying deliveries for retailers. Once the deliveries were consolidated, only 20 trucks made onward deliveries into the city centre, reducing the number of trucks by 80 per cent.

Lush, the cosmetics retailer was one of the first to join the scheme. Steve Miles, who is responsible for logistics there, says: “It’s a great initiative for helping the city centre, but more than that, it’s proving to be cost and carbon efficient, as well as reliable, with goods continuously being delivered on time. Drivers are also taking away recycling to be processed at the depot.”

Back in 2004, I innocently expected to see the idea replicated in other cities around the country. But despite this success, such schemes are few and far between and Bristol and Bath scheme remains the only one of its kind in the UK.

The onslaught of online shopping and out of town malls means that many city centres need all the help they can get. Schemes like this could play a part in their revival.   

Malory Davies FCILT,

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