UK Warehousing Association announces ‘Year of Warehousing’ for 2024

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The UK Warehousing Association (UKWA) has announced that 2024 will see the launch of a high profile, year-long campaign to highlight the critical role of warehousing in supply chains, the sector’s major contribution to the UK economy, essential employment of 1m people, and the key role it is set to play in embracing solar power to achieve UK’s net zero goals.

‘2024: The Year of Warehousing’ will coincide with the 80th anniversary of the Association’s inception in 1944, and will include an ambitious program of 80 site visits across the UK by UKWA CEO Clare Bottle, whose aim is to showcase the high tech, fast-moving working environments inside UK’s warehouses and raise public awareness of the sector.

Commenting on the initiative, Clare says, “Warehousing remains one of the fastest growing, yet least understood sectors in the UK. This is partly because people rarely see what happens inside these often vast buildings, where millions of products are processed every day. Accordingly, the essential work warehouses do has always been ‘behind the scenes’ and therefore to a large extent underappreciated. However, as our role becomes increasingly central to everyday lives, it’s time to turn the spotlight onto all the great work we do and for the warehousing sector to be more widely recognised by government, media and the general public for its achievements.”

Warehousing is changing rapidly as traditional High Street tasks are being forced back up the supply chain by ecommerce, whilst quasi-manufacturing activities like assembling gift-packs or printing T-shirts are pushed downstream. Warehouses have also become hubs for returns management, recycling, upcycling and repairs, helping reduce waste as part of the circular economy.

As a result, warehouse buildings are becoming larger and higher to accommodate this additional activity. 1% of the 4000 largest warehouses in the UK are so-called ‘mega-sheds’ of over 1 million sq ft. and this trend is set to continue. Automation and robotics are being adopted increasingly, improving productivity and supporting workforce wellbeing, while sustainability is baked into new buildings to reduce emissions and control costs.

Warehouse rooftops offer huge potential for generating clean, affordable solar power, as UKWA’s landmark report confirmed. This will place intense focus firmly on the sector as the government looks towards industrial rooftop installations to contribute a third of its 2035 target to increase solar capacity by nearly fivefold. Many warehouse operators have already embarked on this journey. 

Clare Bottle concludes, “Marking the 80th anniversary of the UK Warehousing Association, the 2024 ‘Year of Warehousing’ campaign will showcase the considerable social and economic benefits of warehousing, introduce exciting new initiatives, and step up support for UKWA members. 

“As part of the celebrations, in addition to the 80 warehouse visits and a series of planned events for members, in 2024 we will be introducing the first independently accredited Warehouse Manager CPC qualification, commissioning a definitive property report into the current UK warehousing landscape, and unveiling a new solar rooftop installation toolkit. 

“We will be celebrating in style, talking more than ever about warehousing, driving up industry standards, engaging with our growing community and, most importantly, securing the recognition for our sector that it truly deserves!”

Mike Thomas, Chairman of the UKWA Board and Client Services Director at Delamode International Logistics, adds, “The Board are delighted to support Clare and the UKWA team committing resources to celebrate this significant milestone anniversary, while boosting the business profile of our great warehousing industry. We look forward to a fantastic year ahead!” 

The UKWA’s ‘Year of Warehousing’ campaign was announced at UKWA’s Annual Parliamentary Luncheon at The House of Lords on Tuesday 17 October.

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