Booming cold storage sector
10 June 2020
‘Just in time’ has gone out of the window with COVID-19 creating greater demand for storage.
As with many industries around the world, the current coronavirus pandemic is likely to be remembered as a permanent turning point for the cold storage sector. Over the past few months, we have experienced first-hand the natural response to panic created by an event like this. Back when lockdown started in March, consumers turned to frozen goods to take advantage of extended use by dates, and minimise their own need to leave the house, in line with government advice. It’s a trend forecast to continue in the midst of COVID uncertainty.
The pandemic has undoubtedly been a devastating global event. However, we have reached a point in time where we need to start looking at how we can make positive changes for the future.
Industry leaders are starting to think differently. We’ve seen a growing demand for increased capacity in both independent buildings and infill temperature-controlled facilities; further incorporation of next-generation technologies, such as automation on the facility’s floor; and enhanced visibility across the supply chain. We’re ready for an industry-wide upheaval across the tried-and-tested methods of preservation, many of which were becoming aged solutions in recent years. The storage sector needs to be transformed into a modern, agile, and resilient industry – prepared to tackle any disruption that might arise in the future.
From the manufacturer’s perspective, ‘just in time’ has gone out of the window. Industries have learnt that raw materials must be stored in mass to avoid shortages. Not only this, but the shift towards online shopping is driving the need for more warehouse capacity.
As a result, the UK warehouse industry is booming, and we have seen many stories around storage problems in the wake of the crisis. At Ambrey Baker, we have received multiple enquiries around converting or extending existing warehouse spaces to enable food and drink businesses to improve capacity. When it comes to cold storage specifically, we’re able to create retrofit cold stores in pre-existing conditions, as well as building new ones from the ground up.
One concern around manufacturers hosting more physical stock is the risk of fire. With additional storage, insurance premiums will rise. Fire risk can be drastically reduced with the installation of fire walls at suitable points, something which construction companies should account for.
Overall, it’s safe to say we’re facing some big changes when it comes to storage solutions and warehousing in the UK. Arguably, changes which are long overdue. COVID-19 has meant priorities have been revised for many businesses, and it’s been interesting to see how this ripple effect has spanned different industries. While at the moment it’s hard to know exactly what the future holds, at Ambrey Baker we believe the key to progress is collaboration. By communicating with industries to find out what they need, we can look to accommodate new behaviours and solve any issues which have surfaced as a result of COVID-19.
Paul Waldeck, executive director at Ambrey Baker