chaz2Despite the recession, investment continues in new equipment for Britain’s loading bays. Major equipment supplier Hörmann UK, for one, can bear witness that major customers have continued to install new equipment in their loading bays this year, as part of ongoing development programmes.

In one such contract, Hörmann were charged with helping ASDA produce a low energy solution to storage and distribution at the retailer’s new warehouse and distribution centre in Didcot. Their solution was to install 14 High Speed Insulated Spiral Doors.

The new spiral doors compliment the 57 Hörmann loading bays with telescopic lip dock levelers, full panoramic vision panels in the loading bay doors, Hörmann’s self adjusting dock buffers and another new product to Hörmann, the wheel-lock system which locks a vehicle to the bay whilst loading is taking place.

The recession has called for careful management of businesses’ existing resources, and since September 2008 Hörmann UK has been responding by reducing unnecessary costs and expenditure. Commercial Director Alan Jenkins says, “This has helped maintain our position in both the domestic and industrial markets. Our cost-saving activities mirror the reduction in our turnover in both sectors, but in some cases our market share has actually increased as many long-standing customers will not risk damaging their reputation by buying and passing on lower quality products. Secondly there have been a number of changes in both our markets, with competitors re-branding or re-focusing on other areas and in some cases going out of business.

“The biggest industrial business downturn we have faced is in the ‘Big Shed’ market, down as much as 50-60% on 2007. Most developers have gone through massive restructuring and rationalising, not helped by the Government’s refusal to remove ‘Empty Rates,’ a major reason why speculative development of new warehousing stopped dead. Some developers have gone so far as to demolish good warehousing stock to avoid this crippling tax.

“There are signs that the UK is slowly moving out of recession and a small but growing feeling of optimism, but like many I also believe 2010 will be tough. The emphasis for the Big Shed market will be on refurbishing some of the existing empty warehouse stock. Also we may see increased rental income, as most existing sheds have been let at extremely low rents. With a potential shortage of suitable new or refurbished warehousing in the future, we may see a mini boom in new builds or a return to healthier rental values.”

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