The CEO of the United Kingdom Warehousing Association (UKWA) has warned that global political and economic uncertainty linked to societal shifts and changing consumer behaviour is creating “a perfect storm that is driving an unprecedented pace of change within the logistics sector”.

Peter Ward, UKWA’s CEO was speaking at the association’s Annual Awards Lunch, held at the Dorchester Hotel in London this week.

However, he added that the future offers huge opportunities for companies that are successful in adapting their working practices to the nature of the modern commercial landscape.

He said: “The continued demise of the high street means that retailers have 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.”

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On a global scale, he spoke of President Trump’s ‘America First’ policy bringing implications for tariffs and in China, investments of $900 million per year in building infrastructure will allow Chinese goods to reach 65% of the world’s population and become 35% of global trade.

He also commented on the uncertainty that Brexit brings to logistics across Europe.

He said: “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.”

“Next year will mark the 75th anniversary of UKWA’s inception and I think the challenges faced by our sector at the present time are probably unique in the association’s long history.”

UKWA’s Annual Awards Lunch was attended by over 450 senior supply chain professionals from UK leading logistics services, retail and manufacturing companies.