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The bar has just been raised

20 May 2024

In just one week, four million ft2 plus of warehouse space has been committed in two deals with the promise of thousands of jobs in the East Midlands. Liza Helps, Property Editor, Logistics Matters offers her analysis.

GLOBAL E-TAILER and 3PL Amazon has secured a site for a 2.86 ft2 million state-of-the-art, technology-driven customer fulfilment centre in Northampton, while Nike has announced it is setting up its first ultra sustainable UK logistics campus totalling 1.3 million ft2 in Corby specifically aimed at reducing its carbon output to zero.

It would be so easy to label these facilities as just warehouses, but each represents far more than that - they typify the future direction of the supply chain workforce experience. They are the new generation campus style facilities set in widely landscaped parks offering the highest levels of environmental and social credentials combining placemaking and technology and a far, far, cry from what is commonly imagined as a typical UK warehouse on an edge of town industrial estate.

Amazon’s facility at SEGRO’s SLP Northampton scheme is set to feature three floors of robotics where products will be stored, and customer orders picked using advanced technology. The company is spending some £500 million on the state-of-the-art facility, and it is not the only one it is developing in the UK right now – the company also has a 2.3 million state-of-the-are fulfilment centre that it is progressing in East Yorkshire close to the Humber ports.

Nike, which has been looking to secure a 1 million ft2 plus facility in the UK for nearly two years has secured space at investor developer GLP’s Magna Park Corby scheme. It is another state-of-the-art project but with Nike’s Move to Zero commitment where it intends to reduce carbon footprint by 63% by 2030 from levels in 2019 and reach net zero by 2050, mean that the building has to also actively help the global brand reach its environmental goals. In its search it refused to countenance any facility that would not score a BREEAM Outstanding rating. Less than 1% of UK’s newly built non-domestic buildings achieve this score. 

It is interesting to note that of the non domestic buildings that do secure BREEAM Outstanding a large proportion are logistics buildings.

An example of another global occupier that has also actively pursued the highest environment credentials for its building in the UK as a way to decarbonise its supply chain and that of its customers is Rhenus UK, with its award winning million ft2 logistics campus in Nuneaton.

But as well as showcasing its zero carbon facility for clients it has also highlighted the Wellness aspects of its property as a great place to work for employees with track and walkways along the canal, multi use games areas, cycle ways and beautifully landscaped environment all of which can be shared with the wider community as well integrating in the campus firmly into the neighbourhood. 

In a similar style Nike is promising not just a BREEAM Outstanding warehouse and office but also a wide range of integrated sport and recreation facilities and amenities including running tracks, open-air gyms, multi-use game areas (MUGA) and recreation areas linked into Magna Park Corby’s extended woodland exercise route and nature trail, and other footpaths as other in-house amenities from shower and locker rooms to canteens.

Nike is looking to create an environment where it can attract and retain highly skilled workers and that environment is very much influenced by the actual building developed and how that sits within the landscape as well as the amenities that it offers to its employees.

In a report to the Northampton Telegraph following the groundbreaking ceremony Nike said the facility ‘will not just be a distribution centre, it will be a real campus that people can call home’.

In a sector where it is getting harder to attract and retain the best and most skilled employees – the park style campus community is the direction of travel, and the logistics sector should take note.