While some of this volume will be made up of smaller units, it comes as little surprise that the vast majority of the space is in the form of large, empty sheds. We see them from our trunk roads – huge warehouses that have been erected in weeks, only to remain empty for months. Why is it that the UK logistics industry has such a “big is best” mentality, which sees it continually developing such sheds, only to be faced with the issue of filling them on completion? With businesses becoming larger we must accept there will be a need for some development, however to perpetually pursue speculative builds without an awareness of the alternatives available in the marketplace cannot be a good thing for UK plc.
Such a macho-style approach to warehousing development surely contributes to the significant number of empty or poorly-utilised warehouse facilities nationwide. A more pragmatic approach is needed, where multi-user operations are considered more often to improve both use and cost-effectiveness.
Huge sheds are developed as flagship facilities, only to languish on the market for months – or even years – while a single, “golden” customer is pursued. I believe it is far better to offer flexible warehousing solutions to the market – with different customers sharing the same facility with optional services. We have found that this approach creates efficiencies and synergies that can be shared by all stakeholders. The UK warehousing sector needs to think more about its customers’ needs, rather than erecting another shed it will struggle to fill.