Being responsive to a changing market is a tenet which has underpinned the success of the Culina Group as one of the UK's largest food and drink logistics operators. The ability to future-proof our operations has been at the heart of our business development and growth.
It is that precept which has driven our decision to take occupation of the first warehouse distribution unit to be built at the new National Import Centre being developed by the Peel Group as part of its multi-million pound Port Salford development.
It is the UK’s first tri-modal inland port facility and distribution park, accessible by mainline rail, motorway and inland waterway.
Why move to Port Salford? Because we recognise that retail trends are changing – smaller convenience stores are gaining popularity over megastores amongst consumers. That means smaller and more frequent orders are increasingly being lodged by retailers.
As a growing, market-leading operator, we need to be fleet of foot in order to respond to that new dynamic. We recognised that we needed to consolidate our operations and increase the capacity of our network via the development of larger, shared-user logistics facilities, while maintaining the cost base for our food and drink clients.
Our existing North West site, at Middleton, is only around 14 miles away from Port Salford, but its capacity is just 10,000 pallets. It isn’t a ‘future-proof’ solution. With 45,000 pallet spaces, Port Salford has 36% more capacity than our current largest ambient facility at Wolverhampton, which has 33,000. Our new base will provide the vital additional capacity that is required to service our business growth.
Location is also strategically important. Port Salford will enable Culina to establish a major foothold in a key geographical region. Approximately half of the UK population – 35 million people – is located within a 150 mile radius of Port Salford. Its position offers significant advantages for us to reach the consumption heartland of the UK more directly, more frequently.
Port Salford is a unique development in the UK: a multimodal facility that offers excellent connectivity by road, rail and water. There are 10 motorways within 10 miles and the site sits adjacent to the Manchester Ship Canal, connecting directly with the Port of Liverpool and Manchester, the second largest city in the UK. That gives us real flexibility and the ability to offer our clients an unparalleled level of choice.
What’s more, the rail and water links will provide genuine environmental benefits by reducing road mileage and carbon dioxide emissions. This 'green logistics hub' is the type of innovation that will enhance Culina's market-leading credentials and put us even further ahead of our rivals.
This is innovation at its best – and we are looking forward to enjoying the benefits a state-of-the-art freight gateway at the heart of Great Britain can offer us and our customers.