Nairn Foster, the founder and Managing Director of the warehouse industry’s newest national exhibition, reveals the exciting plans for Inside Warehouse Logistics Expo (IWLEX 24) as it relocates to Coventry at the NAEC Stoneleigh and evolves into IWLEX 2024 – The UK Festival of Warehousing.
The Inside Warehouse and Logistics Expo came into existence in 2022 with the primary objective of creating a contemporary exhibition exclusively dedicated to warehouse operations. It was designed to be “Shaped by the industry, for the industry.”
The highly anticipated inaugural Inside Warehouse and Logistics Exhibition took place in May 2023 at the International Convention Centre in Telford and received immense acclaim from both visitors and exhibitors. Nairn Foster, Managing Director at IWLEX speaks to Warehouse & Logistics News.
We recognised the demand within the warehouse sector for a modern exhibition and conference that resonated with today’s industry. An event that was more inclusive, open to all associations, and moulded by the industry itself. We aimed to establish a modern event that represented the strengths of the warehouse sector, celebrated diversity, and created a community that showcased innovation and highlighted opportunities.
The industry rallied behind this new, modern, and inclusive exhibition, and we welcomed over 110 high-quality exhibitors offering visitors a wide array of innovative products and cutting-edge solutions to enhance warehouse operations’ efficiency. With the support of three conference streams and guest speakers, including TV personality Adrian Chiles, there was a refreshing and progressive atmosphere in the halls.
Were you pleased with the outcome of the first Inside Warehouse Logistics Expo?
Ecstatic! We knew that launching an event would be challenging, but it was quite an emotional experience witnessing all our hard work materialise into the exceptionally well-produced event that we delivered. I don’t think the industry fully expected the quality of production that we brought to this space. Both Justin Craig, my business partner, and I genuinely care about what we do and delivering value to those who support us. It was beyond gratifying to see the quality of visitors at IWLEX, the exceptional content, and our shared vision coming to life. We were immensely grateful to our association and media partners, exhibitors, visitors, and contractors for creating something so special.
What was the feedback like?
Well, 99% of visitors said they would return and recommend the event to a colleague, so it’s evident that what we offered hit the mark. The quality of visitors was exceptional. Our objective for 2024 is to build on this strong foundation, aiming to attract even more visitors and deliver unparalleled value for all. Our exhibitor re-bookings have been remarkably strong and considering that the second year of an event can be challenging, we are pleasantly surprised by how far ahead we are compared to 2023.
Looking ahead to May 2024, what do you have planned for IWLEX 2024?
We are extremely excited about our new and ambitious plans for IWLEX 2024!
IWLEX 2024 is going to be a celebration—a place where business gets done and where we unite to embrace everything that makes the UK Warehousing sector special. Our focus is to differentiate ourselves from other exhibitions, daring to try new ideas and bringing the entire warehousing community together.
The warehouse sector is a crucial part of UK logistics, serving as the backbone of the UK’s economy. It is a modern and dynamic sector that is rapidly evolving through technological innovation and a commitment to equal opportunities for all. We want to celebrate all of this.
We’ve relocated to Coventry at the NAEC Stoneleigh, strategically positioned in the logistics golden triangle, making it easily accessible for our visitors.
We’ve rebranded Inside Warehouse Logistics Expo (IWLEX) as IWLEX – The UK Festival of Warehousing.
We’ve partnered with the UK Warehousing Association to produce a world-class conference stream for the event.
We are also planning to host the UK’s largest careers fair for the Warehouse sector, promoting the opportunities available within this dynamic industry.
Additionally, we aim to champion women in logistics and host the UK’s largest women in logistics networking event alongside a broader networking event for the industry.
So, it’s going to be a festival? What do you mean by that?
We’re not going full “Glasto” (though that would be quite something)! At its core, IWLEX is an exhibition. However, we want to express our gratitude to our exhibitors and visitors and create a “feel-good factor.” There will be complimentary food, free drinks, live music, and fun activities to add a more inviting and relaxed atmosphere to the traditionally formal B2B experience. We want IWLEX to be a celebration of the warehousing sector, an event where business is conducted but also an occasion to enjoy and catch up with contacts in a fun environment.
Mental Well-Being was a significant focus at IWLEX 2023. Why was that?
Yes, at IWLEX 2023, we placed a strong emphasis on personal well-being in addition to corporate well-being initiatives. This is something that both Justin Craig and I are deeply passionate about. The mental health crisis within the warehouse sector has been well-documented, with concerning suicide statistics. We made a concerted effort to shed light on this issue, providing access to experts who could discuss personal mental health, the importance of seeking help, and the possibility of change. We collaborated with Michael Maisey of the CIPD project – www.thecipproject.com/meettheteam– who led powerful sessions. Many individuals are hesitant to open up about their struggles, and the more we can highlight that no one has to face these challenges alone and that help is available, the better.
We encourage individuals in the business world to treat each other with kindness, and for those going through tough times, we want them to realise that with support, change is possible, and their lives can significantly improve, no matter how challenging it may seem.
We will continue to shine a light on well-being at IWLEX 2024 while maintaining our focus on our six core pillars: Inclusivity, Commerce, Innovation, Community, Sustainability, and Well-Being.
Any companies wishing to exhibit at IWLEX 2024: The UK Festival of Warehousing are encouraged to contact firstname.lastname@example.org and or call Nairn on 07359 250670.
Further information about IWLEX 2024 can be found at www.iwlex.co.uk