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22


Issue 5 2018 - Freight Business Journal


Western approach pays off for Davies Turner


Wales and the West of England has been something of a forgotten region as far as the freight forwarding industry is concerned. But far from being a backwater, there is plenty of business to be had in both Bristol and hinterland and along the South Wales corridor from Newport through Cardiff and on to Bridgend and Swansea. Certainly, Davies


Turner is


finding no shortage of work in either region, according to director Robert Lucy. Since opening its first Bristol facility of the modern era in 1994, business has gone from strength to strength. The forwarder – the largest


UK independent - has a policy of investing in the UK regions, he explains. In 2008, it opened its first full-blown logistics facility, and this has just been followed by a new multi-user distribution centre near Avonmouth in the main port region of the city. The 150,000sq ſt building at


Western Approach has a high bay fully racked area, and with an eaves height of 19 metres, is one of the highest in Europe for very narrow aisle (VNA) forkliſt operations. It can hold 27,000 standard pallets and four mezzanine floors offer space for sorting, rework, and fulfilment services. Access to the warehouse is


through 18 loading docks plus a separate drive-in ramp at one end and an extra wide door at the other for out-of-gauge freight, which sits under a large canopy where double-decker pallet trailers can also be loaded. The site has been fully secured with palisade fencing and barriers. The site is within a 10 minute


drive of the existing Western Freight Terminal and it will shortly benefit from direct motorway access thanks to the new junction currently under construction on the M49. Davies Turner also does good


overland and airfreight business in Bristol, Lucy adds., while Davies Turner chairman, Philip Stephenson adds: “Our Bristol regional HQ which also houses Davies Turner Air Cargo, has had outstanding success and is expanding rapidly in co-operation with our European partners plus the main existing and emerging markets worldwide.” The company has bought enough land - 12 acres - at Central


Park to develop a second warehouse on the same site capable of adding at least another 121,000sq ſt (11,250sq m). One advantage of this phased


construction is that the second building can, if necessary, be designed for a specific customer, allowing for a bespoke layout and specialist automation. Stephenson explains: “The


company already operates other warehouses nearby, with each site delivering complementary supply chain solutions. This cluster-based approach based on our freehold sites will allow us to pool our local management and labour resources. It represents a much- needed expansion of capacity serving our customers nationwide


central hub, it means we can pick up late in the evening, and we have full control over our freight loading and handling.” Regular direct services run


from Bristol to all major points in Europe with the exception of Scandinavia, and most of these are daily. There is also a huge business to Turkey, where Davies Turner is investing in distribution centres and infrastructure. Bristol also is an excellent


location on the national motorway network, with the M4 and M5 giving it fast access to the rest of the country and to major ports and airports. It means, for instance, that goods can be brought in from Asia, worked on and then sent out to all parts of the UK and Europe.


///WALES & SOUTH WEST


some serious manufacturers now, particularly in the fashion sector with Seasalt in Redruth and Falmouth.” Customers may be in relatively


remote parts of the country but they still expect the same level of service as those in the big cities and the key is to have vehicles in each area every day to pick up freight and bring it back to the Bristol hub. The latter must also work late into the night to ensure that everything gets on its way. “We’re


fortunate that we’re


of sufficient size to run 20 to 30 vehicles, so we can do it,” Lucy points out. However, far from being a big, impersonal organisation, Davies Turner prides itself on its customer relationship teams. The person that takes the phone call for a job subsequently looks aſter it through to completion, rather than handing it over to another department.


The Welsh connection


Bristol is one of Davies Turner’s key multimodal freight hubs and, as well as satellite branches in Plymouth and Southampton, also works with the customer relationship team in


Bridgend,


as well as in South Wales and the West Country.” Lucy adds: “We’ve used about


6-7 acres of the 12 acres that we have, and while there are no firm plans yet, it’s on our minds that we might want to start work on the next phase; aſter all, these developments take 1 to 1½ years to bring to fruition.” The Bristol region has


perhaps been somewhat lacking historically in high-spec, large warehousing operated by the forwarding sector. “There is a lot of traditional freight forwarder- and haulier-based warehousing and there are a number of customer- specific developments including Amazon, but multi-user logistics warehouses are slightly unusual here,” Lucy explains. He adds that because Davies


Turner owns its own properties and develops them for its own business, it tends to go for a higher spec than that available in the general market. As for freight services, Lucy


continues: “We’re possibly unique in this area in that we have daily services going out directly from Bristol to all parts of Europe, and that gives us a huge edge. Because we’re not operating via another,


Davies Turner’s logistics activity


in Bristol has grown to the point where it employs 150 people full time, but rising to around 250 during seasonal peaks, and its turnover locally is of the order of £26-27 million. “I sometimes like to think that we’re ‘head office’,” jokes Lucy. “And we’re particularly strong on overland.” Bristol could be said – with all due


respect to Exeter and Plymouth – to be the last truly major city west of London before the more rural regions of the West of England but just because there are no major cities doesn’t mean that there is no freight business, Lucy points out. “For example, there is a lot


going on in Cornwall,” he explains. Indeed he sometimes hankers aſter the idea of a sub-hub on the borders of Devon and Cornwall. Davies Turner already has an airfreight branch in Plymouth, and a Cornwall-based sales person. There is also plenty of industry


and business along the M5 corridor in places like Newton Abbot and some in North Devon, although that region is more remote from the motorway network Lucy adds: “There’s a lot of


inbound traffic into Cornwall and the county is also getting


South Wales. Having a presence within Wales itself is appreciated by Welsh folk, and the office has a strong client base locally. (Though there is nothing to stop a customer


in Newport, or Cardiff, talking to the Bristol office should they wish to.) “In fact there has been a


resurgence in business all along the South Wales corridor, from Cardiff to Swansea and beyond,” says Robert Lucy. “It’s a combination of existing business picking up and completely new business. Along with everybody else, we’re feeling pretty buoyant about South Wales and the West.” Bridgend


is heavily a convenient


location to serve South Wales, being virtually at the


populated


the end of and


industrialised belt. Starting pick- ups from the furthest point west allows Davies Turner to work its way east to the Bristol hub. Head of sales and development


for the South-West, Edward Lucy (Robert Lucy’s son) confirms: “We are very pleased with the way things are going - the Central park Logistics facility is filling up quickly.” Locally, the cost of warehousing


is going up and Davies Turner can help customers ‘future proof’ their future needs for space, as well as help them flex their requirements up and down during seasonal peaks. “Companies are becoming far more aware of the cost of warehousing,” he says. That said, space is at least


available in the South-West compared with the tight situation in the Midlands, and


No light at the end of Brynglas tunnel yet


Politics and transport are never far apart and this is particularly true of Wales at the moment. The freight industry had been looking forward to a final decision on the ‘M4 bypass’ route that would provide an alternative to a particularly congested section of the M4 in South Wales through the Brynglas tunnels, and, it seemed, a route had been decided – albeit not one to everyone’s liking. However, Wales first minister


(and transport minister) Carwyn Jones is standing down and his successor, Mark Drakeford, has in the past expressed doubts as to the suitability of the route option that has been chosen. At the very least, he could lead to a decision being postponed by some months, says Freight Transport Association head of skills and Welsh policy, Sally Gilson. The favoured ‘Black’ route has


proved to be controversial, not least because it would bisect the operational area of the port of


Newport. However, the Welsh Government did put forward a package of measures costing around £135m to mitigate the effect of the new M4 relief road on ABP’s facility. This would include new buildings for port firms operating that would have to be relocated, developing the south dock as an alternative to the north dock where a new bridge would make it inaccessible for some vessels and increasing the height of a new bridge over the River Usk. Controversial the new route


might be, but it’s essential that a final decision gets made, says Gilson: “Bear in mind it’s a crucial link, not only between England and Wales, but for Ireland as well.” Congestion through the


Brynglas Tunnels can be “pretty horrendous”, she adds. While things run reasonably well if there are no incidents, the moment one does occur there is no easy alternative route for traffic to take and the motorway can be at a


many companies are setting up operations in the South-west, says Edward Lucy. He says “You only have to look at the companies that have set up in our area recently – The Range, Lidl, the new Amazon site and another for DHL – you don’t necessarily have to be in the Midlands. And companies here also like to have access to their stock by holding it here.” Warehousing costs


in South


Wales are traditionally lower than the Bristol area. The region has been seen as somewhat less accessible, though thankfully, the Severn bridge tolls are due to be abolished at the end of the year. This, if nothing else, serves as a psychological barrier though perhaps the real issue is the congestion through the Brynglas tunnels on the M4 during the commuter peak. Nevertheless, says Edward


Lucy, there are many successful businesses in South Wales, including the Peacocks clothing line in Newport. Business generally is on the up


in South Wales, he adds. While the electronics industry – which was set up to provide alternative employment aſter the demise of steel and coal – is itself almost gone, there has been a more across-the- board growth. This


suits Davies


Turner fine, because the forwarder too tends not to rely on any one sector.


standstill very quickly. She adds: “I’ve lost count of


the number of years we’ve been calling for improvements to the M4, and I think some of members believe it will never happen.” FTA meanwhile will be


ensuring that the Government keeps to its promise to abolish tolls on the Severn Crossings, which many feel has had an inhibiting effect on the development of trade and business in South Wales. North Wales has its pinchpoints


too – in some ways, the problems are similar to the M4 in that there is a sole multi-lane highway with no real alternative routes if it is blocked for any reason. The situation can be particularly difficult during the holiday season. The other major issue in Wales,


says Goilson, is the lack of truck parking. While North Wales does now have the St Cybi truckstop on the outskirts of Holyhead, there is little in the way of dedicated truck parking in South Wales apart from motorway service areas – and they are hardly conducive to a good night’s sleep.


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