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Space: Above & Beyond... Contract Logistics

Space: Above & Beyond... Contract Logistics

In Contract Logistics it is common for quality service providers to be flexible and adaptable to change, an attribute driven by close cooperation with customers in determining sales supply and demand.  Transparency of data has always been the cornerstone of successful partnerships between 3PLs and the customers they serve.

Whereas demand spikes due to seasonality, promotions, and new product introductions where ingrained in customer demand planning and 3PL operational planning, what happened over the course of 2020 to 2022 was exceptional and truly tested the world of supply chain management.  In June 2023, Forwarder Magazine published a similar article from Janette Page, NNR UK’s Head of Ocean Development, highlighting the challenges faced by Ocean Freight; but let’s be clear, such challenges affected the total end-to-end.  

For many, Contract Logistics incorporates the complete End-to-End supply chain but the contribution of warehousing and distribution hugely determines the success or failure of products getting to market in full and on time.  Such efficiency and performance directly drive sales performance and profitability.

With the disruptive forces of the pandemic and Brexit, 3PLs were tested to the core; lockdowns, product demand changes, supply issues on materials, finished goods and packaging availability, shipping delays, retail closures, and staff sickness – all provided a constant challenge to 3PL and warehouse operators.  Everyone working in logistics felt an unprecedented level of stress, workload, and also a responsibility to keep supply chains operational through the most serious and darkest of modern times.

NNR itself was in the process of moving to its new state-of-the-art distribution centre in mid-2020 when lockdowns forced the closure of the construction site – barely four weeks prior to the DC being opened. A huge challenge for the company, but we successfully overcame it, taking occupancy three months later and still satisfying customer demand over the pandemic – where some demand peaked by 1000%.

Continuing into 2022, the warehousing industry saw huge demand for warehouse space, due to the storage requirement of PPE and also to house 

excess stock as a result of retail closures during lockdown periods.  For many, inventory levels doubled, as the seasonal stock needed to be stored and held back by 12 months. Over this period many 3PL invested in increased space to manage this demand until the PPE and the seasonal stock levels reduced over time.  

Out of these stormy waters, 3PLs have developed new areas of expertise; those continuing to provide excess storage space (pallet-in / pallet-out), the e-com specialists, and total end-to-end contact logistics specialists. It is evident that the 3PLs that made investments in people, technology, environmental policy, and quality systems were better equipped to tackle the challenges they encountered. Continual investment in such areas is critical to support the industry; proving essential in navigating the current and future economic headwinds faced and turning challenges into opportunities for success.  

NNR is an acronym of Nishi Nippon Railroad, also known more commonly as Nishitetsu Group; a business of Japanese descent operating for the past 115 years. NNR Global Logistics is the logistics division of the parent company. NNR has its own operations in over 130 global locations, including 4 sites in the UK.  We are a ‘World Top 20’ ranking logistics service provider. Key highlights below and further visuals and business case studies can be found at

  • UKWA Best Warehouse award winner
  • Full solutions for B2B, D2C on all FMCG sectors
  • Modern, Clean, High-Tech, High-Bay Facility (18 months old)
  • 24-hour on-site security with full CCTVSophisticated WMS, with remote inventory visibility
  • E-commerce fulfilment with EDI & API plug&play integration
  • Amazon FBA fulfilment and Amazon trusted haulier
  • Container devanning and stuffing facilities
  • Pick & Pack, re-work, labelling
  • Full cross-dock facilities
  • Parcel and pallet courier services available
  • Proven Logistics provider to the SME & FMCG sectors

Tim Dabbs,
Head of Contract Logistics, NNR Global Logistics

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