What to expect from UK logistics in the next 30 years

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What will the logistics sector look like in 30 years’ time? Diamond Logistics is celebrating 30 years in business this month. Founder/CEO Kate Lester and Group Operations Director Natalie Wainwright discuss how the business has changed over the last 30 years and what to expect from UK logistics in the next 30.

Logistics is a fast-paced sector at the heart of UK business. Brexit, the pandemic and a successful vaccine programme, have shone a light on supply chains and the importance of national warehouse networks. Logistics professionals continue to solve problems in the background. Diamond Logistics has been doing it for 30 years, and looks forward to continuing for another 30 – at least.

The next 30 years in logistics are likely to place it at the heart of the C-suite. And the conversations at that level will include drone deliveries in remote areas, more automation, carbon neutrality and major changes to infrastructure, according to Diamond’s leadership team.

Of course, the last 30 years have been impressive – whilst challenging – too. Kate Lester, founder and CEO of Diamond Logistics – a company which is 30 this year – has enjoyed tackling all the opportunities the sector has presented to her.

It is quite incredible how much the logistics industry has changed. Once upon a time we were Diamond Despatch with a single motorcycle and an orange D reg Astra van called Jaffa. Now, I look at our network of 30 warehouses around the UK, with over 50% of our revenue derived from online income – which was only 5% five years ago – with much pride. Roll on the next 30.

– Kate Lester, Founder/CEO, Diamond Logistics

Kate always planned for the business to have a national presence which became a reality once her children went to university and she was able to switch her primary focus from single parent to business leader, with time to diversify into overnight and international services, alongside Daniel Allen, Diamond’s Chief Innovation Officer.

In 2013 Diamond Logistics piloted the idea of their Network Partner model and welcomed their first Partner in 2014. Today they have reached 30 sites in time to celebrate their 30th birthday. Kate says this growth was enabled by its bespoke Despatchlab technology which it started developing in 2016. 

Diamond’s Despatchlab solution has set the business apart and earned it its place as a technology company. The £2.25 million development was designed by logisticians, for logisticians. It’s what its Network Partners use to win new business, especially  eFulfilment.

In 1992 I remember writing out our invoices by hand. And now we have a multi-million-pound automated end-to-end technology system. To say things have changed is an understatement.

– Kate Lester, Founder/CEO, Diamond Logistics

Natalie Wainwright joined the business in 2019. As Group Operations Director, Natalie sits at the heart of what’s happening, in the midst of every opportunity and challenge. Here she reflects on what’s needed for logistics operations to thrive.

Investment in our road networks will be key. Height will become a factor as bridges and bypasses are built overhead to cope with the volume of traffic on roads… The virgin hyperloop will be here sooner than we think, offering sustainable transportation. This will likely become a freight carrier alongside a passenger network, reaching delivery destinations quicker than we can imagine.

– Natalie Wainwright Group Operations Director , Diamond Logistics

Natalie also considers the impact of rising commercial property prices saying that commercial property will be unaffordable for SMEs and scaling businesses.  Outsourcing warehousing and fulfilment will continue to be the most cost-effective option.

Kate expects drone technology to disrupt existing networks.

In areas of dense urban conurbations, air-based deliveries won’t work, but for remote areas — Channel Islands, Scottish Highlands, rural communities — I think drones will represent a useful delivery means. This will bring border control challenges and the control of prohibited goods, including people and drugs.

– Kate Lester, Founder/CEO, Diamond Logistics

Diamond’s technology focuses for 2022 and beyond include the delivery of Despatchlab as a white label software for sectors including publishing and engineering. Despatchlab software will transform businesses in new sectors, giving them more control of their logistics.

The new SameDay Courier application  ̶  Despatchlab SameDay  ̶  which includes online booking and live vehicle tracking, is available now, and the WMS is set to launch this month.

Both Kate and Natalie are eager to reiterate a final point. Global warming and protecting the future of the planet is going to become more prevalent – primary – and that a commitment to electric fleets, re-usable packaging and carbon neutrality is key to a positive next thirty years for Diamond, the rest of the sector and everyone else.

The logistics sector is intrinsically linked to science, technology and innovation. May it lead the way and transform UK business from its well-earned place, in the UK’s business boardrooms.

To find out more about eCommerce Fulfilment or UK storage visit Diamond Logistics or call 0333 567 5888.



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