International freight forwarding company WE Deane has seen a dramatic increase in what it describes as non-essential goods being moved.
The Barking-based operator has operations in The Netherlands and South Africa as well as a number of sites across the UK from Liverpool to Southampton but it’s their furniture contract which MD Rob Falconer says is “booming” at the moment.
“There’s stuff I would expect to be dead which isn’t,” he said.
“Non-essentials have become needed and the guys on the furniture side are selling a lot more. I think that is because they’re selling barriers to grocers perhaps, which is interesting because although non-essential they are needed.”
Despite the increase in loads, which Falconer says also includes fashion items including shoes and sandals from Portugal, WE Deane has also had to furlough a number of staff. Four out of its seven UK depots are involved in the sequential line supply of automotive car parts.
“The automotive industry is a big concern and no one knows when they might start up. It’s effecting suppliers and all the way down the tiers. I’m not sure how they can work safely [in the plants], so it may be some time. I don’t see anything changing on the automotive side until June, at least. We have furloughed the staff on those contracts and it’s not been a very nice situation. It’s a big part of our business that is just sitting dormant.”
While Falconer is pessimistic about the chances of the automotive industry restarting, one positive is that they are starting to see containers arriving again, resulting in a much larger demand for storage.
“There’s has, in the last few days, been a large increase in enquires for storage. We’re starting to see a ramp up of containers coming back in to the country after having been completely dead for three months. There’s quite a lot of air freight but more sea freight is now coming in too. I think we’re going to start to get a bit busier, particularly with storage, as countries start to come out of lockdown.”