SSO Logistics on Merseyside has invested more than £500,000 on a new 40,000 sq ft warehouse and six forklift trucks (FLTs), which has helped create 20 jobs.

The Widnes unit complements the company’s existing warehouses in St Helens and Haydock and has space for 4,000 pallets.

It will be used for redirecting shipments for several delivery postcodes SSO covers for the Pallet-Track network.

It has also committed a further £350,000 on four lithium battery-powered FLTs for its Haydock site, along with two Calder Flexi FLTs for the new Widnes warehouse.

Peter Draper, director at SSO Logistics, said: “With a lot of our work with Pallet-Track, the trunks would come back to Haydock – now they can go direct to Widnes, which is quicker and has far less impact on the environment.

“As a business, we’re growing and planning for the future. I believe many major warehousing projects are going to be shelved due to high interest rates, so we are securing space now and forward planning for our customers.”

Draper added: “With the new vehicles, there is also an environmental and business benefit. The lithium truck can be charged in 15 minutes compared to an eight-hour full charge for the older lead acid models, which would often run out halfway through a shift.”

Last year, SSO’s Haydock site was awarded freeport status by the government, meaning it was the city’s first customs site operator – an area within a freeport where certain tax and customs rules are suspended.

SSO is hoping the new Widnes site will also be confirmed as a freeport this month.

“It’s not just about us being a freeport – it’s about us selling to customers so they can be too,” said Draper.

“For example, one of our customers imports from China, so pays no duty on arrival. We manage that on our site, and we release the duty if they sell the product in the UK. There’s a cashflow benefit and a big saving on high-duty goods.”