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Liverpool needs space for logistics growth

[ September 14, 2012   //   ]

The Liverpool region has the potential to outstrip the UK national average growth levels for the first time in years, says the boss of the local enterprise partnership – provided it is not held back by a lack of space and buildings for the logistics industry.

Mark Basnett, from the Liverpool City Region LEP told a conference organised by Peel Ports on 13 September that lettings in the logistics sector were, so far in 2012, “200% above trend” with the result that “all the good stuff is going” With 80% of the market now pre-let, any shortage “would be a real blocker for our aspirations.” Most new logistics property had now been let and any that was now available was usually secondhand.

The recession had made property developers cautious throughout the UK and the lack of bank finance was also a nationwide problem. The diffeence, though, was that in the Northwest the local logistics industry was picking up strongly, and this was leading to a space shortage. Other forms of finance might have to be explored, Basnett added, such as local pension funds, he added. It was also to indetify and sites that were available and prepare them for development.

The logistics centre was nationally an under-appreciated sector in terms of the jobs it could create and its effect on local economies; local authorities often focussed their efforts on providing small induistrial units rather than the big sheds needed by distribution operations.

In Liverpool alone, the logistics sector was worth an estimated £2bn or 7% of the local economy, accounting for 2,700 VAT-tregistered companies and employing 46,000 people.

Liverpool was in many ways in a unique position among UK ports. It was genuinely central, with most of the country within a few hours’ truck drive and its catchment area also accounted for a large percentage of the country’s consumption. For instance, 60% of all goods from the Indian subcontinent were consumed within Liverpool’s catchment area, even though 91% if imports currently entered the country through south coast ports.

It was important to get major major retailers onside and develop the concept of port centric logistics.

At a panel session, Claire Waxma, head of logistics at outdoor clothing firm Regatta, said that her company – which has a major distribution centre at Ellesmere Port, had been testing the barge service that already moves substantial volumes for Kingsland Wines and other local shippers up the Manchester Ship Canal. Shipping into the Northwest had worked much more smoothly than using southern ports, she added. Ironically, for a rainproof clothing firm, it was bad weather that created the most disrupttion to the company’s supply chain, she added.

 

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