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Following the UK’s decision to leave the EU, SEKO Logistics is bucking the trend and investing more than £5m into a ‘flagship’ air freight and omni-parcel service facility near Heathrow.
SEKO, which expects its UK revenues to top £100m this year for the first time, is moving into the 22,000sq ft facility this month in Egham, just over five miles from the airport.
The company has been focused on e-commerce business, and the UK has the third-largest online sales in the world. SEKO plans to expand in the “pure-play” etailer business from the UK to Australia, New Zealand and the US.
It added that the new facility would also add capacity for its other logistics solutions in the UK.
“We are growing organically, mainly on the strength of customer recommendations,” said Keith O’Brien, chief operating officer, EMEA.
“[We are] expanding our global footprint and reputation for helping British companies to quickly access the lucrative cross-border e-commerce space, which has been our biggest growth area in the past two to three years. This will continue because of the international demand for British brands.
“Our decision to invest in this new facility close to Heathrow will make the cross-border delivery process even easier for our customers.”
The forwarder noted that the decision had also partly been based on the recent decision to expand Heathrow. However, there remain doubts as to how soon the airport will expand and, in the face of strong opposition and legal action from some politicians and environmental groups, whether it will ever get its third runway.
“The obstacles leave me with a certain sense of foreboding over whether spades will ever hit the ground,” admitted BIFA director general Robert Keen after the recent vote in parliament in favour of expansion.
“Detailed plans will still need to be drawn up and will again have to go out for public consultation. There is talk of several local authorities around Heathrow mounting a legal challenge, as well as a judicial review. Separate reviews of flight paths and airspace are also required.
“Each new hurdle will only increase delays further – and the chance of another political volte-face is ever present.”
SEKO appears confident, however, both in the airport and the UK’s ability to keep trading.
It said: “With Heathrow’s expansion gaining government approval in June, as well as the UK aiming to double its export business to £1 trillion by 2020 – and alongside Britain’s place in the world’s top five importing countries, [we think] Heathrow will become an even more vital gateway for a plethora of new cross-border trading opportunities for both British and international businesses.”
Jaguar Land Rover yesterday became the latest company to warn of the impact of a “bad Brexit”. It said it would lose £1.2bn in profits each year and that its UK investments could be in jeopardy. It has outlined a plan to move production of its Discovery model to Slovakia from the UK, which could affect hundreds of jobs, although the company denied the move was Brexit-related.
The announcement follows similar warnings from Unilever, Siemens, BMW, Airbus and a host of banks.
SEKO, however, says it sees an opportunity.
“As a customs broker and 3PL, we will help to ensure customers are fully prepared for all eventualities once the full outcome of the UK-EU negotiations is known. This is supported also by the added peace of mind that comes from us working closely with our neighbouring SEKO Logistics facilities in Europe, which underpins our ability to manage all customer requirements,” said Mr O’Brien.
In February, SEKO opened its second-largest operation in Europe at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Logistics Park.