I sat in a meeting this week and heard for the 89th time in 20 years that “Logistics? Big ugly sheds that take up too much space and only create five jobs.”
Not quite. Such sector snobbery is very old-school.
Imagine for a minute your dream inward investment project. Big sexy blue-chip brand. Hundreds maybe even a thousand new jobs into your area… well for several UK towns and cities, this is not the stuff of dreams. This is describes the biggest job-creating inward investment projects (new locations not expansions; foreign and UK) of 2011 according to our ‘UK Projects Database’.
New logistics operations by the likes of Amazon (Staffordshire and Dunfermline, 900 and 750 jobs) and Co-op (Bristol and Lanarkshire, 1000 and 300 jobs) lead the way, but many others have attracted much-needed jobs such as and Brakes Group (Reading, 500) and Pets at Home (Northamptonshire, 350).
Anyone who thinks that logistics projects (like Amazon's latest facility in Staffordshire, above) are somehow inferior to life sciences or advanced engineering or financial services, is detached from the reality of today’s unemployment. With millions (of all ages and all levels of skill and experience) desperate to find work, it’s time to rethink our priorities. How many LEPs and Enterprise Zones have prioritised ‘advanced manufacturing’ or ‘renewable energy’ (answer: all of them!); and how many are looking to attract ‘logistics’ (answer: not very many).
Big sheds and fork-lift pallet-loaders are just as important to the web-fuelled economy as broadband connectivity and iPads. Just ask Jeff Bezos! Or even better, ask any of the thousands of families he helps to feed in the UK.