Saturday, 23 June 2018


The UK’s Peel Ports Group has put forward an alternative option to introducing a warehouse into the supply chain routing for trade after the UK’s departure from the EU.

In a paper, the company, which operates ports in the UK and Ireland, argues that, rather than goods being stored in a warehouse as contingency, retailers and manufacturers should build up contingency stock at a port of entry using stand trailers, with the operator also calling for cargo which is not perishable or urgent to be able to travel on unaccompanied services.

The document, Brexit unlocked: A Contingency Option Using Uncongested Ports, deploys a hypothetical supply chain whereby cargo is transported from Germany’s Düsseldorf to the UK’s Milton Keynes via the Strait of Dover.
Looking at the new UK warehouse option, Peel Ports Group argues that road miles would be greater than they are currently, flexibility would be low, there would be a higher truck asset use than now and a product would be handled an additional two times than it would be at the moment, meaning damage would be higher.

Conversely, unaccompanied cargo travelling via the UK’s Medway would offer more benefits, with 95 miles being saved per one-way trip, high flexibility, a possibility of improved driver-utilisation, high reliability and an easing of the process through border examinations.

“The Strait of Dover handles 4.3m of the 6.6m units that enter the UK from ports in France, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands,” the paper claimed. “Of these 6.6m units, 4.8m units — or 73% — are accompanied.

“If the Irish Sea market is an indicator, it is reasonable to assume around 50% could switch to unaccompanied trade.”

It’s time to take control of our Brexit future-proofing
The government doesn’t seem to know what it’s doing. That’s more a statement of fact than a criticism, because as far as the business community is concerned, there’s very little evidence that ministers have a definite plan for how UK plc is going to succeed post-Brexit.
That view came across loud and clear during a meeting that we hosted last week at the Port of Liverpool with Carolyn Fairbairn, the Director General of the CBI, and leading companies. Maybe the plan exists and we just don’t what it is; or maybe there is no plan.
Either way, it leaves business leaders in an unenviable position. We all need clarity and certainty – so notable by their current absence - to prepare for the future and support economic growth. After all, it’s not the public sector that will create the trade, jobs and wealth for our continued national prosperity.
The challenge was brilliantly illustrated when yesterday’s delegates were asked if they could be ready for March 2019. Their collective answer was: what exactly are we getting ready for?
So, if the government is unable – or unwilling – to set out what it is going to do, when it will do it and what this will mean for the rest of us, what are companies supposed to do in the meantime?
Obviously, contingency planning is important, but in these exceptional times, minor variations on the business-as-usual approach aren’t going to be nearly enough.
This week we’ve already highlighted how cargo owners and their supply chain providers should look at two alternatives to traditional cross-channel roll-on, roll-off ferry traffic across the Dover Straits. The first is to use other ports (and our modelling suggests this could actually be financially a better option for many) and the second is to use unaccompanied trailers. Both options could be used together, providing ever greater gains and – crucially – resilience.
This is only one example that shows we should seriously question current practices and orthodox thinking.
Maybe it will take for us to reach crisis point before the business community collectively really starts to look at more creative options and genuine collaboration. On the other hand, we could start now to put our shared talents to work and devise better future-proofing, before it’s too late to react to the vagaries of political horse-trading.
None of this is to let the government off the hook though. We still need to see a meaningful international trade strategy, clarity on post-Brexit red-tape, tarriffs and regulations, improvements in the workforce skills and availability, and investment in transport infrastructure.
We also want to see some stability. 8 trade ministers in 8 years is far too many, especially for a government that seems to have pinned its hopes for post-Brexit economic success on increased trade across the globe.
As businesses, we can’t control any of that. But we can work with each other and open our minds to genuine innovation that will improve our odds of success whatever falls out of negotiations with the EU. That much is in our hands. Find out how we can help you with the challenges you face with Brexit and read our free white paper here.
Blog by Julia Bradley, Sales and Marketing Director

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