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Storage space in high demand in Norfolk as companies stockpile to ride out Brexit impact

PUBLISHED: 16:49 12 December 2018 | UPDATED: 16:49 12 December 2018

Johnston Logistics finance director Rob McIndoe in one of the company's warehouses at Snetterton. Picture: Denise Bradley.

Johnston Logistics finance director Rob McIndoe in one of the company's warehouses at Snetterton. Picture: Denise Bradley.

Archant

Demand for warehouse and storage facilities is soaring as anxious companies make contingency plans for Brexit.

Goods are picked in one of Johnston Logistics UK's warehouses at Snetterton. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYGoods are picked in one of Johnston Logistics UK's warehouses at Snetterton. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The extra space is being sought to stockpile products to create a buffer if supply chains slow down after the UK leaves the European Union, while continental companies selling to this country are also seeking a presence to keep goods flowing.

The surge in demand is being reported by Snetterton-based Johnston Logistics, which said it had also seen an increase in companies seeking advice about protecting their supply chains after March 29, 2019 – as the UK’s future trading relationship with Europe remains unclear.

The company imports and distributes goods from around the world for clients. It has around 400,000 sq ft of warehousing space near the A11 and is in the process of expanding it by 20%, said finance director Rob McIndoe.

“There’s more pressure on space today because of Brexit than there otherwise would be,” he said. “We deal with large companies with the time, effort and resources to stockpile, but we also have smaller companies who don’t, and haven’t. They are not sure what’s going to happen. It’s the uncertainty – for businesses it is a challenging time.”

Mr McIndoe said that, in some cases, companies which typically stored four weeks’ worth of stock had taken space to store between three and six months’ worth.

“It could be a hundred extra pallets or so through to thousands of pallets,” he said.

The company has also seen more enquiries from other third-party logistics companies seeking space - suggesting that their own facilities are already at capacity.

Many national operators have revealed plans to build up supplies to ride out any disruption from Brexit next year, including Majestic, owner of Norwich’s Naked Wines, which has brought forward an extra £8m of stock.

Graham Jones of Roche Chartered Surveyors said demand for warehouse space was currently very high, but the issue was “more in focus because supply is so low”. He said Brexit had exacerbated the situation, though the greatest demand was being seen along the A1 corridor where many large logistics hubs are based.

“In the wider industry, we know that there have been more enquiries but they have been for more central areas,” he said.

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