While many regard the supply chain as the movement of goods from their origin to their consumption, it is so much more than that and involves a high degree of asset management.
In fact, it is through the effective management of property that many of our customers can unlock the profitability of their business.
While the changing demands of the market have created some free space that needs to be addressed, there is a limited supply of suitable UK commercial properties at present, which has led to a need for creative and flexible solutions for growing businesses.
At the same time, retailers and manufacturers have increasingly sought to reduce stock and inventory levels in order to cut their overheads, meaning the amount of underutilised warehousing has risen. And while this has caused concern for some businesses, it presents a major opportunity to us.
This is something that Wincanton has witnessed first-hand, as our total managed estate extends to more than 13m sq ft of warehousing and 114 acres of land at more than 200locations across the UK and Ireland - including 6.9m sq ft for our customers.
In order to best use our portfolio we take an active and innovative approach to asset management, constantly reviewing whether we are optimising our properties and utilising the knowledge of our property team to maximise our assets - and this is something we regularly assist our clients with to ensure their property is fit for purpose and use is maximised.
It is in this area that partnering with a third-party logistics provider can really pay dividends by tapping into their knowledge and experience of working with similar businesses. Having an intricate understanding of local rates and the connectivity of a site to suppliers, as well as maintaining strong relationships with landlords and agents, are key to getting the very best deal.
For example, we partnered with US retailer Williams Sonoma in 2013, utilising our insider knowledge to identify suitable property and implement a multichannel solution for our client, leveraging our expertise to implement a fast and risk-free start-up.
Through our knowledge of the marketplace and our customers’ businesses we are also able to broker mutually beneficial partnerships for counter-seasonal businesses. These enable our customers to share their costs and thereby cut overheads while managing available property space and services to maximise sales during peak times of year.
In other words, managing your assets, building a strong and lasting relationship with your logistics provider, as well as regularly reviewing operations so they are fully integrated into an holistic supply chain makes all the difference in an ever-evolving property market.
Jason Jay is a senior asset manager at Wincanton