We spoke with Stephen Carr, Group Commercial Director of Peel Ports, and discussed how Brexit and COVID-19 could reshape the "distribution map" of the UK and increase UK manufacturing activity. We also examined the opportunities and challenges of the UK Government's freeports proposal.
Brexit: the impact on distribution
Stephen suggested there may be a shift away from the current model of heavy reliance on roll-on roll-off traffic transporting goods via the Channel ports towards greater use of unaccompanied freight – which was far more common before the EU removed its internal border controls on goods in 1993. This probably wouldn't work for perishable products such as food, where short journey times are key to ensure maximum shelf-life. However, it would be viable for non-food sectors which also rely on "just in time" supply chains; sectors such as manufacturing depend on it, primarily because it keeps the need for storage space at factories to a minimum. For such businesses, the key issue is that the goods are presented when they are needed (and if the journey takes longer, that is not a problem, so long as this has been factored into lead times for delivery).
Brexit is likely to prompt a shift away from ro-ro traffic to unaccompanied freight