Helping to keep the sector informed of what is on the road ahead is Logistics Magazine, which goes out to over 23,000 Logistics UK members and senior businesspeople in the logistics sector each week.
‘In my seven years as Editor, I have never ceased to be amazed at the truly dizzying array of issues that interest our readers, from the Northern Ireland Protocol to tyre husbandry – and everything in between,’ says Matt Harrington, covering an industry that has had to be increasingly flexible over the last few years, with more change on the way:
‘Before COVID-19, Logistics Magazine was a monthly membership journal, which was chiefly distributed as a print title. Following the pandemic and the widespread shift to digital news consumption, it has evolved into a searchable online web portal. In its first two years, our digital portal received more than a quarter of a million visits, quickly becoming an essential repository for news and views on the industry.’
Read on for insight from Matt on the trends coming up for logistics – sustainability, shifting perceptions and innovation.
How has the logistics sector changed since you’ve been covering it?
In the seven years that I have been covering the industry, logistics has undergone a transformation. Previously something of an invisible sector, first Brexit and then the COVID-19 pandemic shone a spotlight on the industry like never before, leading to a much greater appreciation by the general public of how integral the logistics sector is to their daily lives.
The other big development is decarbonisation – seven years ago it was perceived to be something of a niche or side issue. Now, with the deadline for ending the sale of petrol and diesel vans just seven short years away, I would argue that decarbonisation sits at the very top of the industry’s agenda.
How do you see the impact of supply chain issues evolving over the next few years in the UK and beyond?
The IMF recently issued a warning that it expected the UK to be the only major economy to shrink in 2023. So, we’re in very uncertain times, not just for logistics but every business sector in the UK economy. Logistics has a reputation for being adaptable and resilient, and given that many areas of the sector, such as food retailing or supplying pharmaceuticals to hospitals, are essential services it seems reasonable to assume that the industry will weather the coming storm better than most. However, logistics will not be immune from any wider economic slowdown, so it’s likely that it will not continue to grow at the same pace.
What are the biggest trends for the logistics sector this year?
The scarcity of skilled workers continues to be a significant issue for the logistics industry. While we may be on the cusp of a recession, the labour market remains extremely tight in the UK with a dearth of skilled candidates.
In the autumn of 2021, the sector faced an acute shortage of HGV drivers. Now that crisis has eased, but the problem has shifted to a shortage of mechanics and technicians. That’s partly because many mechanics have C+E driving entitlement so can command a higher salary as a driver. This follows the law of unintended consequences – where plugging a gap in one part of the sector leads to shortages elsewhere.
So, we must battle for talent with a number of other business sectors, many of whom may appear more superficially appealing to a younger demographic. That’s why Logistics UK, in partnership with the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport, launched the industry-wide Generation Logistics campaign last year – to help shift perceptions of the sector.
Are logistics companies doing enough to incorporate net zero goals into their planning?
Getting ready for decarbonisation is going to be a key challenge for 2023. Businesses need to make it integral to their future planning and ensure they have the finance available to fund new vehicles, new technology and new infrastructure. If they need to upgrade the electricity supply to their depots, they also need to secure the necessary agreement with their landlord. And if they are thinking of taking a new warehouse, they need to consider whether it is futureproofed for a decarbonised fleet.
What information from PRs is useful to Logistics UK and the magazine, and how would you prefer they get in touch?
As the house magazine for a national trade body, Logistics Magazine is unusual in that it already has a ready supply of news stories and features on the key policy issues affecting the sector. For press releases to cut through, they need to be reporting something of wider significance, such as the key finding of a large survey or the launch of a landmark report.
What do PRs need to know about the logistics industry that is unique to the sector – does it have big differences to other industries?
Logistics is a fast-moving industry (both literally and metaphorically). It is also extremely responsive to whatever is happening in the wider economy. Technology and innovation have an increasingly large role to play in the industry’s transformation, particularly in the coming years as efforts ramp up to decarbonise and automate freight activities.
Which logistics companies are doing a good job when it comes to sustainability and environmental considerations?
Many of our 20,000 members place sustainability and environmental issues at the heart of their logistics activities, and many others plan to do so in the near future.
In 2021, Logistics UK launched a Route to Net Zero campaign and was delighted that so many of its members opted to join. They included high street retailers, local authorities, parcel couriers, utility companies, as well as more traditional haulage firms. Businesses of all sizes too – great to see.
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