Suffolk Freight forwarders keep things Moving

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Like many key workers, staff at Morrison Freight in Great Blakenham, have had a busy few weeks.

Director Darren Ryan claims freight forwarding isn’t an obvious hero when it comes to key worker status. “We are not saving lives in intensive care departments or staffing supermarket checkouts to make sure people are fed,” he said.

But nonetheless without logistics companies like these, shelves would be bare, medicines couldn’t move internationally, and the supply chain of goods would seize up completely.

“All those who keep the air, water, road and rail passenger and freight transport modes operating are playing a valuable part in ensuring the continuity of goods we need are being delivered,” said Darren. “And I suppose without all these elements, our country would grind to a standstill.”

The government agrees.

That’s why, following demand for an all-encompassing definition of a “key worker”, UK logistics staff were told they absolutely must continue to operate within the COVID-19 government pandemic plan.

Lee Steward, co-Director of Morrison Freight said they were all told their efforts would be a vital mechanism in  the continued provision of goods and services to all the elements of the UK economy.

“Logistics workers ensure that shops, schools and hospitals, as well as manufacturing and our homes, have the products they need, when they need them,” he said.

However, he admits that like most industries, the sector is also struggling to manage the impact of the global pandemic.

“Everything we thought we knew is no more, nothing is the same,” he said.

“The logistics sector allows us to connect with other countries – to bring in goods we don’t make or grow ourselves and to export goods only we can provide to other countries and communities who need them. But movement of goods is a problem right now and its slowing things down.”

According to investment analysts Jefferies, freight forwarders may see volume declines of 20%-30% in air and sea freight in the second quarter of this year with a low of 30%-50% in April.

With both Europe and the United States in lockdown, air freight is the most seriously affected with road freight and contract logistics seeing a 5% dip in estimated demand.

Darren and Lee, who organise the transport of goods to and from Europe, introduced an inter-modal service a year ago which allows some freight to move via train for part of its journey.

Initially the service provided a cheaper – but slightly slower – option for its customers.

But Darren said that in light of the current situation it was proving a popular choice for many importers and exporters who can’t get their goods to and from the UK using other channels.

“The inter-modal service has proved invaluable to many of our customers who are seeking to import or export goods which include medicines and essential supplies of food and equipment in and out of the UK,” he said. “It’s proved to be a massive benefit because of the huge volatility and challenges within the air freight market currently being felt by large and small freight forwarders.

“We really think innovation will be crucial for forwarders managing Covid-19 challenges and are lucky that we have always been forward-thinking in our approaches to our growth and delivery.”

Lee said the company had been involved in transporting goods which were vital to the NHS – again highlighting how important their role has been in the fight against coronavirus.

“Freight forwarding is instrumental in supplying the NHS across the UK with essential medical and pharmaceutical supplies during the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

“We don’t produce everything we need in terms of medicine and equipment here in the UK – lots of it is imported. This means that getting these goods to the people saving lives is a vital part of the Government’s response to the virus.”

He added: “These are testing times for us all but we’re proud to play a part in keeping the supply chain moving while implementing our own health and safety procedures to keep people safe and comply with public health guidelines.”

Image shows Lee Steward and Darren Ryan

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