Logistics: ‘Finding warehouse staff a significant challenge’

Logistics: ‘Finding warehouse staff a significant challenge’

‘Christmas three times busier than normal’

Zsolt Oldal is a production supervisor at Ark-H Handling near Bedford and says Christmas is the busiest time of year for the business.

He says: “Normally at this time of the year all of our clients are running promotions so it is busier.

“Obviously we can feel the effect of Covid but we are two or three times busier than normal.”

He says the pandemic has meant the firm has “seen an increase in e-commerce but less in retail and business to business”.

The company is “prepared” for the festive period, he says, admitted “it does feel pressured” but is confident the staff will cope.

‘We have to differentiate ourselves to attract staff’

Neil Horton, the commercial director at Ark-H Handling says recruitment is “quite a significant challenge”.

He says the issue is “both finding the right people with the right skill set and with the attitude to a really good job for our clients”.

Mr Horton admitted pay is a factor in recruiting staff but also says the industry needs to do work so “employees understand the career opportunities”.

In areas like Bedford, with links to the M1, A1 and A6, warehousing and logistics is a growing industry, which means competition for employees.

“It’s about finding a way to differentiate ourselves from other employers by offering things such as training and career opportunities,” he says.

What is the issue with warehousing and distribution?

Trade group Logistics UK said it expects to see fewer deliveries throughout December due to the continuing shortage of drivers and other logistics workers

Elizabeth de Jong, policy director at the group, said it could result in smaller ranges of products and difficulties restocking.

Earlier this year, Next chief executive Lord Wolfson warned warehouse and logistics staffing was “beginning to come under pressure”.

“We anticipate that, without some relaxation of immigration rules, we are likely to experience some degradation in our service in the run up to Christmas,” the Conservative-peer said.

The government said companies should focus on the UK workforce and make employment more attractive to domestic workers.

‘No day is the same’

Sam Bartholomew is a production executive at Ark-H Handling and says the job gives him “a good foot in the door in the logistics industry”.

He says: “It’s somewhere I want to go further in, so getting my feet on the ground is the best way to do it.”

The job, he says, is “very fast paced” and it gives him “experience in lots of different things, logistics, IT, and working to deadlines”.

Mr Bartholomew says the job does not feel repetitive as the company has “lots of difference customers, so no day is the same”.

‘I like this job’

The company handles 140,000 products from cosmetics to loose tea for companies which do not have their own distribution network.

Marina Homica is one of those who works in the warehouse having previously worked picking fruit and vegetables.

She says her current job is better as before she could not work if the weather was too bad.

“I like this job, I enjoy this job, and I like picking and packing,” she says.