chaz3Welcome to The Grocery Trader’s quarterly Warehouse & Logistics feature, looking at the latest products and services for the grocery supply chain. November sees the International Materials Handling Exhibition 2010, taking place at the Birmingham NEC from the 16th to 19th. One of the biggest events in the warehousing and logistics industry, INHX gives everyone involved with retailers’ and their suppliers’ supply chains the chance to see the latest equipment, products and services under one roof. If you’re thinking of going, we’ve got an IMHX preview piece in this feature to give you a taste. We’ve also got a roundup of the latest Warehouse & Logistics stories about new products, case studies and major contracts.

As we went to press, the Coalition’s Comprehensive Spending Review was dominating the headlines. While the budget deficit rights itself over the next four years it’ll be down to the private sector to generate wealth and create new jobs to replace the 750,000 jobs likely to be done away with in the public sector. The Chancellor has made that very clear.

So where are the new jobs going to come from? It’s likely that many will be in retailing and distribution. Retailing continues to be one of Britain’s largest industry sectors, turning in a consistently strong performance in recent years despite the tough economic climate. The major supermarket chains operate in other countries as well, but in the recession have shown their commitment to the UK with their continued investment in warehousing and logistics infrastructures, not to mention being some of the UK’s biggest employers.

The last government consistently targeted the major retailers for tough treatment, and the Coalition looks like doing the same. Sure, the big retailers, together with their suppliers, operate big transport fleets and run distribution centres, big stores and neighborhood stores, which all impact on the environment. But they’ve been doing their bit to be green, with their support for warehousing and logistics-related initiatives like the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) energy efficiency scheme.

As pointed out by the British Retail Consortium the CRC currently operates as a data gathering only exercise, but companies were due to put £1bn a year into the scheme from April 2011, and expected to get some of it back from October 2011. As part of the latest cuts it now emerges that the £1billion a year that participating businesses were going to put into the CRC will not now be recycled to businesses with good environmental performances. Instead it will go straight to the Government.

You wouldn’t expect the new Government to thank the retailers for their support during the difficult years. They’d say the last recession was the Brown Government’s fault, nothing to do with them. True enough. But going forward, if the Coalition expects the retailers to work with them to revive the economy in a spirit of partnership, this is the wrong way to go about it.

The Grocery Trader

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