This December has seen me spending time with major high street retailers, supermarkets and businesses – only I wasn't buying any Christmas shopping.
Wednesday, December 5 marked the first major piece of engagement for England's Economic Heartland's Freight Study.
In recognition of the critical role the freight and logistics sector plays in the Heartland's economy,we invited around 30 major players to a workshop in Milton Keynes to share their thoughts on future challenges and opportunities for the industry.
What began in November as a modest, short invitation list soon evolved into something not too dissimilar to the Heartland's very first Haulage Conference - now there's an idea?
Businesses: BMW, Mini, Sainsbury's, John Lewis, Tarmac
Logistics: TNT,UPS, Malcom Logistics
Trade: RHA, FTA, UK Warehousing Association, Manchester Airports Group
Government: The National Infrastructure Commission, Network Rail, Highways England, LEPs
The day began with presentations and scene setting from the National Infrastructure Commission and EEH – helping set the direction of travel for both of our reports on logistics and what we hoped to get out of the workshop
The afternoon was then divided into two sessions:
Firstly, asking people where they saw their business in 2050, their supply-chain needs and examples of industry innovation that showed the most promise.
Secondly, understanding the policy pathway required to deliver an even stronger logistics sector, based on the previous discussion and the role EEH could play in delivering this.
The ideas that came back from the table discussions were insightful and impressive – giving the project team plenty to reflect on.
All those present recognised the economies of scale by taking a strategic approach to logistics, and many of the ideas centred on the ways EEH could help facilitate joined up thinking between warehousing, rail, road, airport and new technology.
Antony Swift is a Project Lead at England's Economic Heartland