2017: highlights from a year in Britain’s cold chain

2017: highlights from a year in Britain’s cold chain

January

Tesco to buy food wholesaler Booker
Tesco announces its planned £3.7bn deal to merge with merger with Booker Group, the UK’s top food wholesaler. Booker owns thousands of convenience stores under the Londis, Budgens, Premier and Family Shopper brands, and supplies food to 450,000 caterers, 120,000 retailers and 700,000 small businesses. Tesco’s takeover of Booker was provisionally cleared by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority in November 2017 on the basis that the deal could increase competition in the wholesale market.

Birmingham University tackles ‘clean cold’ challenge
Scientists from the University of Birmingham launched a research project to investigate how ‘clean cold’ could help to achieve almost all of the United Nations’ global sustainable development goals. The Birmingham Energy Institute IS to work with partners in countries where demand for ‘clean cold’ is soaring, such as India and China TO develop strategies using low-carbon and zero-emission technologies and new policy approaches.

February

MPs urge action on diesel-powered refrigeration units
February saw renewed calls for action to curb emmisions from diesel-powered truck fridges in a House of Commons debate that encouraged ministers to take further action. Andrew Selous, MP for South West Bedfordshire, led an hour-long debate during which he called on ministers to tackle “highly polluting and unregulated transport fridges”.

2017: highlights from a year in Britain’s cold chain

AmazonFresh expands in UK
The fresh food retail market received a new challenge with Amazon expanding its AmazonFresh service in Hampshire. The expansion follows news that Amazon was ”searching for high street locations in central London”.

March

Brexit will damage supply chain for perishables says RHA
The Brexit referendum of June 2016 continued to dominate the headlines in 2017. The Road Haulage Association warned that Brexit could damage fresh food supplies because customs problems could cripple supply chains. The RHA points out that 30% of food consumed in the UK comes via truck from the EU.

Agro Merchants moves into Portugal
Agro Merchants, the highly acquisative US-based cold chain logistics provide continued its Europeon expansion buying Portuguese Cold Land, parent company of Frissul and Frigomato, which together have 303,200 cubic meters of storage and 55,700 pallet positions. The current management team, headed by Afonso Almeida, will continue to lead the business in Portugal.

Yearsley Logistics builds UK’s largest coldstore
Yearsley Logistics annoucesplans to starts work on the first phase of its 150,000 pallet coldstore in Peterborough. The £65 million temperature-controlled depot on an 8-hectare site will be the largest in the UK.

April

Red diesel review could hit hard
The days of low duty red diesel lokk numbered as Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond pledges to review the evidence on the use of red diesel. The government said that it will be asking for evidence to support the use of rebated gas oil (red diesel) to improve its understanding of eligible industries and current use. In particular the government wants to review red diesel use in urban areas. MPs are becoming more vocal in their calls to introduce measures to improve air quality. The draft Defra Clean Air Zone Framework, published in October 2016, is the first time diesel-powered fridges have been officially recognised in the UK as a substantial polluter.

May

2017: highlights from a year in Britain’s cold chainAldi plans big UK expansion
Aldi has set out an ambitious plan to increase the number of its UK stores to reach 1,000 stores by 2022. Matthew Barnes, chief executive of the UK and Irish part of the German grocer said: “We have 700 stores now and 300 sites already approved on our books. And there are 600 town locations where we don’t have a store; in many of which we could easily have two, three or four stores.” Aldi overtook Waitrose in 2015 and in February moved past the Co-op to become the UK’s fifth-biggest grocer. It is now sitting on a market share of 6.9% while Lidl is also making gains.

June

Vote Logistics!
June saw the UK go to the polls in a surprise general election dominated by Brexit that saw the government majority slashed. Under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 the next general election was expected to be 7 May 2020.

Driver shortage concerns
The driver shortage starts to make the news with the Freight Transport Association saying nearly 35,000 additional lorry drivers are needed to help solve the recruitment crisis while the Road Haulage Association, think the figure could be even higher – 45,000-60,000. The main problem is that the profile of lorry drivers is ageing, with a large number approaching retirement. Earlier in the year Fowler Welch embarked on a major driver apprenticeship programme that will initially launch across six of its nine sites in a bid to tackle the shortage of drivers in the UK.

July

Agro Merchants buys Poland Services Transport
Agro Merchants Group buys Poland Services Transport – Logistyka, which operates a 58,000-cubic meter frozen warehouse near the port of Gdańsk. The company specialises in storage, value-added services and logistics of frozen meat, poultry, seafood, frozen fruit, vegetables and dairy products. “This acquisition reflects Agro’s commitment to grow our footprint in core import/export markets,” said Jan Harthoorn, Agro’s vice president, Strategic Development for Europe. In january Agro opened an18,000-pallet-space warehouse in Rotterdam-Maasvlakte. In February it bought Frissul and Frigomato, a cold storage operator in Portugal.

2017: highlights from a year in Britain’s cold chainGray & Adams marks 60th anniversary with first Royal visit
Gray & Adams celebrated its 60th anniversary hosting a visit from HRH Prince Charles. Gray & Adams began life in 1957, when panel beater Jim Gray and motor mechanic Jim Adams set up a car and body repair business to serve the area in and around Fraserburgh. Six decades on and still family-owned, it is now a £150-million turnover business employing more than 700 people in Scotland’s North-East and at other factories in Belfast, Doncaster and Dunfermline, and an after-sales centre in Bedford.

Brexit border chaos will cause huge delays
More reports are published to show the dangers of Brexit with Britain likely to be hit by huge border delays and require large lorry parks in the South-east, and suffer more than £1bn a year in economic damage

August

2017: highlights from a year in Britain’s cold chainLidl overtakes Waitrose to become UK’s seventh biggest grocer
Lidl beats Waitrose to become the UK’s seventh largest supermarket chain, according to Kantar Worldpanel. The German discount food retailer has increased its market share to 5.2%, up by 0.7% year-on-year. With 5.1% market share, Waitrose has slid into eighth place. Kantar lists the biggest supermarket chains in the UK by market share as Tesco (27.8%), Sainsbury’s (15.8%), Asda (15.3%), Morrisons (10.4%), Aldi (7%), Co-op (6.3%), Lidl (5.2%), Waitrose (5.1%), Iceland (2.1%), Ocado (1.4%).

September

Virginia International takes top honours at Irish awards
Virginia International Logistics received two awards at the 11th annual Fleet Transport Awards: International Haulier of the Year and Irish Haulier of the Year. Virginia International Logistics, ranked at No15 in the Cold Chain News Top25 temperature controlled operator listing, is a family-owned business with bases in Co Cavan and Dublin in Ireland, and Tamworth in the UK.

October

Nisa backs Co-op takeover
Nisa’s board has recommended members accept a £143m takeover offer from the Co-operative Group. Nisa has 1,190 members and 3,200 stores, adding to the Co-op’s near 3,000. They could be franchisees of the Co-op or keep Nisa branding. Nisa had £1.25bn in sales in 2016/17 and while the Co-op reported £7.1bn in revenues.

2017: highlights from a year in Britain’s cold chainNovember

Unease over Brexit intensifies
Over 60% of logistics firms surveyed believe that Brexit will have a negative impact on their businesses. And over a third have become more pessimistic since the referendum according to the UK Logistics Confidence Index 2017, prepared by Barclays and Moore Stephens.

December

Grocontinental bought by Agro Merchants
Agro Merchants buys Grocontinental to reinforces Agro’s position as a cold storage and logistics provider in the United Kingdom and Ireland. David Grocott and Linda Grocott, third generation owners of Grocontinental, remain in place to lead the business as joint managing directors. Grocontinental is the third acquisition by Agro in the UK and Ireland, following the 2014 purchase of Castlecool and the 2015 acquisition of the Sawyers Group.