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Kbb and merchant services provider Simon Acres Group (SAGL) has reported a surge in enquiries for delivery drivers and support staff at online businesses, due to a significant rise in online shopping, driven by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Shoppers unable to visit the high street have taken to shopping online to such an extent that some experts have predicted that the coronavirus crisis has accelerated five years of online shopping behaviour changes “into only five weeks”.

Many kbb and merchant companies believe that this change in habits will remain as lockdown is eased, with consumers deciding that they prefer the convenience of having goods delivered, to visiting the shops.

“These changes are having a significant impact on staffing levels with our clients who offer e-commerce within their businesses and benefiting from the online shopping boom,” says SAGL director Simon Acres.

“Our team of experienced consultants are working hard to ensure that we are able to respond to the growing number of enquiries we are receiving.

“We have commenced a phased return to the office, with the safety and wellbeing of clients and staff our top priority, our policies and procedures have been updated and will continue to be reviewed as the situation develops.”

The UK Warehousing Association (UKWA) has launched a new Real Estate Helpline for members, in partnership with Associate Member Weightmans LLP.

The new service, which extends UKWA’s wide portfolio of business support services for members, provides an initial 30 minutes consultation free-of-charge, encompassing a range of legal issues.

Members can seek advice on the practical provisions of existing or new leases, from what their lease covers and who is responsible for what under its terms, to alterations and activities that are permitted and those that are not, dilapidation payments and recourse for defective build.

Commenting on the introduction of UKWA’s Real Estate Helpline, CEO Peter Ward said, “A number of factors are driving the issue of real estate up the agenda for UKWA, not least the continued growth of our industry, predicted by the British Property Foundation and highlighted at our National Conference in March, with online spending expected to double, driving requirement for 21m sq ft of extra warehousing every year for the next 20 years.

“Since then the curve has steepened significantly, due the COVID-19 lockdown. The online grocery market alone is now forecast to grow 25.5% in 2020 – significantly ahead of the 8.5% previously anticipated. Add this to the likely demand for additional space for inventory as Brexit brings risk of supply chain interruption and the future picture for members is one of warehouse expansion and acquisition of new premises.”

With UKWA’s recent survey also revealing that 60% of members are tenants rather than owners, the need for professional support in the form of a free service to help with navigation of complex leases is clear.

Specialist solicitors from Weightmans’ national 90 strong Real Estate team will provide preliminary advice on these matters and more. The service will be led by Real Estate Partner Matthew Williamson, who works within the transport and logistics sector and is Weightmans’ national head of retail. Matthew’s principal work is on landlord and tenant matters, he also advises on property acquisitions and disposals.

Peter Ward concludes, “We are delighted to be working with our specialist partner and Associate Member Weightmans to be offering this important service to our members. This is the first stage of a wider focus on Real Estate and additional member benefits that we will be rolling out shortly.”

Ends.

Pictured: Matthew Williamson of Weightmans

UK Warehousing Association
The UK Warehousing Association (UKWA) is Britain’s leading trade organisation representing the warehousing and third-party logistics (3PL) sector.  The association’s 800+ member companies operate some 12 million square metres of warehousing from around 2000 depots across the UK.
For more details, visit www.ukwa.org.uk  or contact pward@ukwa.org.uk

Peter Ward, CEO of the UK Warehousing Association (UKWA) has called on cargo owners to utilize available warehousing space rather than looking to government for help with quay rents and other port charges.

“Port charges are intended to keep cargo moving through the ports for good reason. An appeal to government for financial assistance to keep freight at the port is not only futile, it’s unhelpful in terms of keeping supply chains flowing,” he says. “There is still warehousing space available, albeit only some 10% of potential capacity, and UKWA has set up an Emergency Space Register specifically to assist cargo owners in identifying appropriate space quickly and cost-effectively.”

Ward adds that the issue is not about real estate and empty buildings, but fully equipped and serviced operational space, that can be taken up instantly on a plug-and-play basis.

“There are signs that the government is preparing to allow certain retailers – such as the large DIY sheds – to reopen at some point over the coming weeks. If that happens, obviously more warehousing space will become available as outbound flows recommence. Hopefully the government will give us sufficient time to plan for this, so that warehouse operators, drivers and so forth can be brought back from furlough into the workforce as soon as possible.”

However, if space does runs out, UKWA will also be able to support cargo owners in locating inland off dock storage facilities for fully loaded containers.

The key point, says Ward, is that should off dock storage be required, members can provide this under UKWA terms and conditions.

“There are real commercial risks to storing goods, in terms of ownership and liability, that should not be the responsibility of ports or shipping lines” he explains. “Once cleared through customs, loaded containers can be stored by our members under UKWA legal contracts which state that the ownership, insurance liability and risk sit with the cargo owner. We are keen to work together with all parties to offer a solution for cargo owners that also helps terminals and shipping lines keep boxes moving, while protecting them from unnecessary commercial risk.”

UK Warehousing Association

The UK Warehousing Association (UKWA) is Britain’s leading trade organisation representing the warehousing and third-party logistics (3PL) sector. The association’s 800+ member companies operate some 12 million square metres of warehousing from around 2000 depots across the UK.
For more details, visit www.ukwa.org.uk or contact pward@ukwa.org.uk


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