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Convert stores to warehouses to meet last-mile demand

17 June 2021

A leading 3PL says converting empty retail stores to last mile delivery locations could help meet fulfilment demands. But flexibility on rents may be needed.

Wincanton group property director, Ian Henderson, says: “As omnichannel retailing continues to grow, so do consumers’ ever-increasing demands for convenience – whether this is faster deliveries or easier returns. Addressing these demands means an efficient supply chain, particularly in the final mile.

“Much of this efficiency hinges on warehousing being located near to the consumer to provide much needed flexibility. This is creating a shift in warehouse location and two thirds of online retailers say urban logistics is a high priority within their expansion plans, according to a CBRE report, UK Urban Logistics: Delivering closer to consumers.

“With the Covid-19 pandemic further increasing online demand, one in seven retail outlets are now standing vacant in UK high streets and retail parks. Converting this to centrally located retail warehouses could be the answer to efficient, last mile delivery logistics. 

“However, out-of-town retail park rents are higher than logistics rents, which makes repurposing an even greater challenge. It is essential that stakeholders work together proactively to determine the optimum mix for those sites that are suffering. Through this collaboration, there is a real opportunity to reduce risk – allowing landlords to incorporate sites with a diverse line up across retail, click-and-collect, showrooms, and delivery units.”

Wincanton has considerable experience in repurposing urban property in response to changing market demands. In March 2021, it commenced operations for Waitrose and Partners in Greenford, West London, adding a third Customer Fulfilment Centre or dark store to its existing network across the capital. In a first for the UK supply chain market, Wincanton delivered at pace additional capacity for 25,000 customer orders per week and significantly increased eCommerce capabilities for Waitrose & Partners through the creation of the urban dark store.

The original piece can be found here