Welcome to the first in a regular series of UKWA columns in Warehouse and Logistics News. 2019 marks UKWA’s 75th anniversary. The Association was launched in 1944 when representatives from warehousing companies formed a committee to discuss the storage and distribution of food and materials in wartime Britain. Originally known as the National Association of Inland Warehouse Keepers (NAIWK), the organisation underwent a number of name changes before becoming the United Kingdom Warehousing Association in 1994.

Today UKWA is the leading trade body dedicated to serving the needs of the UK’s logistics industry and has approaching 800 member companies – including third party logistics operators together with leading retailers and manufacturers – who, between them, control nearly 100 million square feet of warehousing space from nearly 1300 locations across the UK.

The role of UKWA in the 21st century is a vital one: the logistics sector contributes billions to the UK economy and employs close to 8% of the nation’s working-age population and, in the current uncertain political climate, the Association is constantly exploring how best it can work collaboratively with the policy makers and other stakeholders to overcome the myriad challenges confronting our sector.

The fact is that the challenges faced by our sector at the present time are probably unique in UKWA’s long history: political uncertainty allied to societal shifts and changing consumer behaviour are creating a perfect storm that is driving an unprecedented pace of change within the logistics industry.

The continued demise of the high street means that retailers are having to face up to the challenge of re-shaping their routes to market to meet the ever-increasing demands of technology-enabled consumers. As a result, logistics has become ‘the new retail’. But, a short supply of new warehousing stock in the required locations, increasing rents, a shrinking labour pool and a transport infrastructure that, in many places, is creaking, means that logistics professionals are under greater pressure than ever to deliver new and innovative solutions that meet the demand for shorter lead times and faster delivery.

The current and future logistics landscape is one that will be negotiated successfully only by companies that are able to recognise opportunity, embrace innovation and adapt to operate in an unpredictable world and UKWA works hard to give its members the tools that they need to succeed.

Recognising excellence UKWA recently held its 2019 Annual Awards. The winners of the 10 awards categories were announced following UKWA’s 75th Anniversary Lunch, which took place at London’s Dorchester Hotel in June in the presence of HRH The Princess Royal.

The UKWA Awards are established as symbols of achievement that emphasise the importance of logistics within today’s economy and the high number and quality of the entries we receive each year underlines the professionalism that runs through the modern logistics industry.

Our Annual Awards are just one of the ways that UKWA is encouraging investment in training and education, embracing diversity, and highlighting the many career opportunities that exist within modern logistics to young people. By doing so, our aim is to ensure that the industry is fit for purpose, ready to meet the challenges of today’s digital world and, in short, fully prepared to face the future.

PETER WARD

UKWA, CEO