After a year of resilient trading in 2017, the UK’s logistics industry expects continued success in 2018 despite the uncertainties posed by Brexit and continued economic instability.
That’s according to the Freight Transport Association’s 2018 Logistics Report, which polled the opinions of around 500 freight and logistics businesses operating in the UK and internationally. It found cause for optimism among respondents for the coming year of trading, on the back of consistent performances from businesses moving goods by all modes of transport.
Overall market activity and investment intentions were up across the board, as Elizabeth de Jong, the FTA’s Director of UK Policy, explained: “Respondents to this year’s report were generally positive about their 2017 trading performance, and the prospects for their respective sectors. There is much for the logistics industry to be encouraged by.
“However, with inflationary pressures at home and abroad and the uncertainty of trading relationships post-Brexit, it is clear that many operators are far from confident about their future business prospects. And with logistics underpinning the British economy at all levels, both domestically and overseas, it is crucial the sector is boosted by concrete plans for the UK’s future relationship with Europe.”
While domestic and international road freight performed positively in 2017, respondents surveyed for the report cautioned that the current positivity surrounding logistics could be lost without firm plans for the UK’s future trading relationships with Europe, which will have an impact internationally and domestically.
Continued inflationary pressure could also have a significant effect on investment – 14% of those questioned have already curtailed investment decisions since the vote to leave the EU – as well as on consumer spending, which will have a knock-on impact on the logistics sector. There are also concerns surrounding future employees for a sector which relies heavily on EU workers, with 35% of respondents believing that a restriction on worker movement would have a detrimental effect on their businesses.
John Simkins, Head of Transport & Logistics at Santander Corporate and Commercial Banking, commented: “The survey shows that overall fleet investment intentions remained positive and road freight market activity such as HGV, van and trailer fleets saw investment increase. The industry is constantly transforming and the ever-evolving environmental concerns and frequent changes to legislation have forced many companies to regularly review their fleet operations.”