"The ability of the supply chain to flex and handle the ever-increasing demands of the customer requires collaboration at every operational level."
Ian Henderson, Group Property Director at Wincanton
Closer to the consumer
As omnichannel retailing continues to grow, so do consumers’ ever-increasing demands for convenience – whether this is faster deliveries or easier returns. Addressing these demands means an efficient supply chain, particularly in the final mile.
Much of this efficiency hinges on warehousing being located near to the consumer to provide much needed flexibility. This is creating a shift in warehouse location and two thirds of online retailers say urban logistics is a high priority within their expansion plans, according to a CBRE report, UK Urban Logistics: Delivering closer to consumers.
With the COVID-19 pandemic further increasing online demand, one in seven retail outlets are now standing vacant in UK high streets and retail parks. Converting this to centrally located retail warehouses could be the answer to efficient, last mile delivery logistics.
However, out-of-town retail park rents are higher than logistics rents, which makes repurposing an even greater challenge. It is essential that stakeholders work together proactively to determine the optimum mix for those sites that are suffering. Through this collaboration, there is a real opportunity to reduce risk – allowing landlords to incorporate sites with a diverse line up across retail, click-and-collect, showrooms, and delivery units.
Wincanton manages eight million sq ft of space that is equipped to respond to the challenges of future warehousing needs. This means we’re getting the best out of the space we have, while also acquiring new properties with the right specifications and the right location for our customers like our new 528,000 sq ft shared user facility which has become the home of eCommerce for B&Q, the WEB. At the same time, we’re leading the discussion around the repurposing of alternative space, as a member of the Management Board of the UK Warehousing Association.
Finally, Wincanton has repurposed its urban property in response to changing market demands and is leading the way with innovative supply chain solutions. In March 2021 we commenced operations for Waitrose and Partners in Greenford, West London, adding a third Customer Fulfilment Centre or dark store to its existing network across the capital. In a first for the UK supply chain market, Wincanton delivered at pace additional capacity for 25,000 customer orders per week and significantly increased eCommerce capabilities for Waitrose & Partners through the creation of an urban dark store.