New Anglia LEP is recruiting businesses for fully funded programme

New Anglia LEP is recruiting businesses for fully funded programme

25.8.2021 | Networking

Fully funded support network

Build and strengthen your business and improve its overall performance.

What is the New Anglia Peer Networks programme?

Peer Networks is a national peer-to-peer networking programme for SME leaders that want to grow and develop their organisation for future success.

The New Anglia Peer Networks programme is delivered through our Growth Hub and will support over 200 eligible businesses, fully funded.

We create diverse cohorts of individuals to collaboratively work through common business issues. Through interactive action learning, we enable you to discuss your own challenges, gain and reflect on valuable feedback and implement practical solutions to overcome them.

Up to 18 hours of fully funded networking support is provided through the programme as well as up to 3.5 hours of one-to-one support matched to specific needs to your business to help build on your learning experience.

From logistics and HR to sales, marketing and more, our expert business consultants give you the flexibility to create a trusted support network that works for you. We can help you to build and strengthen your business, improve its overall performance and increase your own leadership confidence.

How do I get started?
Build a strong, trusted network of connections to help your business grow and develop further by filling out the form here.

Woodland Group Opens New E-Commerce Facility in Colchester

Woodland Group Opens New E-Commerce Facility in Colchester

25.8.2021 | Logistics

Woodland Group Opens New E-Commerce Facility in Colchester

Roll out of national and international warehousing and eCommerce vision.

Thanks to the continued growth of Woodland Group’s Warehouse and Fulfilment business, the global supply chain company has opened a new 45,000 sq ft facility in Marks Tey, Colchester. The new warehouse has been designed to expand capacity by 5,000 pallets, has over 4,000 pick faces dedicated to e-commerce and boasts some of their latest carbon-conscious warehousing initiatives.

Since the Marks Tey location opened its doors to clients in the 1st week of August, Woodland Group have onboarded new customers and brands that will all be operational for the 2021 peak trading period.

The opening of this site has resulted in 10 additional roles to start while also creating opportunities to progress and diversify for Woodland Group’s existing team members.

“It’s a really exciting time for our fulfilment teams and clients, as we further develop the solutions, we’re able to deliver to support forward-thinking businesses in changing eCommerce and supply chain management processes for greater positive impact.”, Kevin Stevens, CEO, commented.

As such, and in line with their most recent facility upgrades and carbon-conscious vision, the new Marks Tey facility features:

• Newly created office and meeting rooms, relaxation areas and social spaces for the team
• The latest li-ion forklift trucks with revolutionary charging system, and battery optimisation for measured energy output based on requirements
• LED lighting with motion sensors reducing energy consumption across the entire facility
• Additional Lorry parking for 40 trucks and modern driver facilities
In addition, Marks Tey is their first location to run:
• A new warehouse waste reduction programme with view to be zero landfill
• Solar panels to power the facility using renewable energy

Woodland Group has invested in a full redesign of their warehouse management system in partnership with TMWare which allows them to deliver a fully paperless, integrated solution that works with all the major shopping carts and retailers allowing for peak order picking in excess of 180,000 B2C orders per month.

The opening of the company’s Marks Tey location is a great stepping stone as Woodland Group rolls out their national and international warehousing and eCommerce vision in line with their aim to create opportunity for clients and communities alike and invest into carbon-conscious solutions that will deliver the sustainable supply chains of tomorrow.

VARTAN Launches Compliance Expertise Podcast Series

VARTAN Launches Compliance Expertise Podcast Series

24.8.2021 | Risk Management

VARTAN Launches Compliance Expertise Podcast Series

Miles Vartan gets behind the mic to talk all things compliance and risk management.

Drawing on its own expertise and that of expert guests, VARTAN’s new podcast series demystifies the complexities surrounding compliance and risk management and encourages all to join the conversation.

This week, compliance specialists VARTAN Consultancy launches the company’s The Compliance Experts Podcast series. Hosted by company Founder and Managing Director Miles Vartan, the series aims to demystify all aspects of compliance and make sense of legislation through discussion.

In the first episode, Miles offers a snapshot of what he and his expert guests will bring to this honest and straight-talking podcast series. He says: “We will be inviting experts to join the conversation and help iron out the confusion of compliance. As well as to dive into the legislative aspects that companies need to be cognisant of and develop ideas and tangible solutions to help us all manage the jungle of compliance and risk management.”

Dynamic in its approach, the monthly podcast series will also tackle the latest news and hot topics as they unfold. Miles continues: “The podcasts will be 45 minutes in length – long enough to benefit from the information imparted and short enough to create interest. In the first edition, I catch up with Neil Bird, our senior consultant and import and export expert here at VARTAN, to discuss the changes in legislation around Brexit’s import and export laws and their subsequent impact on businesses.”

Guests in the second and third editions of The Compliance Expert Podcast, which are available to listen to VARTAN’s website, include Jon Swallow, director of Jordon Freight (and authoritative Brexit industry commentator) and Laura Thomas, legal and QHSE director of Jackson Civil Engineering. She talks about the challenges of returning to the workplace, employee wellbeing, and adapting to the new environment.

The Compliance Experts Podcast is available to listen to now on podcast directories and via our website

Miles adds: “This is an exciting new venture for us here at VARTAN, and its success relies on people getting in touch and being involved. We are always looking at improving our positioning in the marketplace and making our knowledge more accessible. A conversation with Susanna Hornby of Suffolk-based led to our first three podcasts being published on our website, Spotify, Amazon Music and Apple Podcasts and we’re looking forward to working with her and the team on future editions.”

Disclaimer: At the time of recording, the information in this podcast was deemed correct, BUT please note legislation, deadlines, and information can change daily – so please always check in with VARTAN Consultancy for up-to-the-minute information.

Maersk partnership to fuel “world’s first” carbon-neutral container ship

Maersk partnership to fuel “world’s first” carbon-neutral container ship

24.8.2021 | Shipping

Maersk partnership to fuel "world's first" carbon-neutral container ship

Green fuel plans for shipping giant.

Maersk has identified its partners to produce green fuel for its first vessel to operate on carbon-neutral methanol: REintegrate, a subsidiary of the Danish renewable energy company European Energy.

REintegrate and European Energy will establish a new Danish facility to produce the approx. 10.000 tonnes of carbon-neutral e-methanol Maersk needs to power its vessel.

Henriette Hallberg Thygesen, CEO of Fleet & Strategic Brands, A.P. Moller – Maersk said: “This type of partnership could become a blueprint for how to scale green fuel production through collaboration with partners across the industry ecosystem, and it will provide us with valuable experiences as we are progressing on our journey to decarbonise our customers’ supply chains.”

The world’s first methanol feeder will be 172 metres long, and it is expected to join the Maersk fleet in mid-2023.

It will sail in the network of Sealand Europe, a Maersk subsidiary, on the Baltic shipping route between Northern Europe and the Bay of Bothnia.

The methanol facility will use renewable energy and biogenic CO2 to produce e-methanol.

Jon Swallow on HGV shortage

Jon Swallow on HGV shortage

24.8.2021 | Haulage

Jon Swallow on HGV driver shortage

With temporary visas dismissed by government, what’s the solution? 

With a critical driver shortage to deal with and new border checks due in the next few months, things are in danger of overheating as the economy tries to open up. The driver shortage has been a looming problem for many years, often spoken about but never addressed. Whilst Covid had a mild impact, Brexit and the withdrawal of EU labour have expedited the issue to a powerful tsunami that the average person in the street will soon feel, seemingly with no quick resolution.

Lloyds Loading List recently reported the suggestion by Logistics UK that the driver shortage could be resolved by introducing temporary visas for EU truck drivers. This could be a short-term solution but does not come without its problems.

The first and most obvious is whether these EU drivers are there or even willing to come to the UK in 2021. We don’t believe the EU workforce needed to plug the gap again is there this time, as the problem is in Europe too, and our loss has been their gain. EU drivers are now comfortably working without borders and/or closer to home. Secondly, UK drivers have seen this as an opportunity to address the very real problem of low wages, long hours and poor conditions. Fixing it with EU labour may seal the crack but kicks the problematic can down the road. And third, it doesn’t really fit the Brexit narrative. Those that professed taking back control and British jobs for British people would have a hard time explaining what’s happening.

As we start to look towards Xmas, the traditional ramp-up is looking decidedly at risk. If you add in the huge problems that continue to be experienced with Ocean carriers (a whole separate issue), we wouldn’t bank on full shelves this year.
Here Stuart Todd’s article from Lloyds written 2nd August is posted with specific comments from others in the industry.

Lloyds article

“Logistics UK is pressing the government to review its decision not to grant temporary work visas to EU HGV drivers, in the wake of mounting pressure on the UK’s supply chain caused by a lack of available delivery personnel.

The industry body’s general manager of Public Policy, Alex Veitch, explained that with a current shortage of around 90,000 drivers, the country’s highly interconnected supply chains are now under extreme stress which could be relieved in the short term by allowing EU workers back to support the domestic workforce:

“Logistics has relied on EU drivers for many years, and their loss at the start of the year as a result of Brexit has hit the sector hard. While new drivers are trained and qualified – which can take up to nine months – and DVSA works through its backlog of outstanding HGV driver tests – which we estimate could take until early 2022, it would be prudent for the government to enable temporary visas to be made available for European workers to return to supplement the domestic workforce. The government has already done this for agricultural workers through the Seasonal Worker Scheme, so the precedent has been set: and what is the point of allowing people in to pick the food, if it cannot be transported anywhere due to a lack of available staff?”

He continued: “Logistics workers, and particularly HGV drivers, have acted as the engine room of the UK’s economy throughout the pandemic, keeping homes and businesses supplied with what they need. The recent extension of drivers’ hour’s rules will not solve the problem; the recently improved Apprenticeship Standard for LGV Drivers is launching in August and will take time to have an impact, and the driver test backlog is unlikely to be cleared till the New Year.

Veitch added: “Without an interim solution while new drivers are recruited, trained and tested, the current problems experienced across the country with out-of-stock items will continue. There are simply not enough qualified personnel available to do the jobs we rely on every day – we urge the government to be pragmatic and rethink its refusal to allow temporary visas for the sake of the UK economy.”


Meanwhile, a senior company executive has called on the logistics industry “to start treating lorry drivers with the respect that they deserve” if it wants to reverse the working population’s dwindling enthusiasm for a career behind the wheel of an HGV.

Charlie Walker, head of marketing at UK-based online fulfilment specialist Walker Logistics Ltd, said the haulage sector has been struggling to attract heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers for as long as most people can remember but never has the driver shortage problem been as severe as it is now.

According to the Road Haulage Association, the UK’s HGV driver pool is currently some 100,000 down on its pre-pandemic total of around 600,000. But even before COVID, it was accepted that the industry needed to recruit at least an extra 60,000 drivers, he noted.

“While Brexit and coronavirus are getting most of the blame for the present crisis, perhaps the time has come for the supply chain sector to consider its own role in creating the driver shortage and reflect on how it might reverse the working population’s dwindling enthusiasm for a career behind the wheel of an HGV.

“The uncomfortable truth is that lorry drivers have been undervalued and treated disrespectfully for years – not only by society in general but, shamefully, by some sections of the industry in which they operate.

Driver shortage ‘only likely to get worse’

Walker highlighted that today’s HGV driver spends long hours under constant pressure from routing and scheduling planners. On arrival at an RDC, s/he will often be made to wait for “an eternity” in a small, invariably grim room (although some boast the luxury of a coffee machine) while awaiting a delivery slot.

He added that 60-hour working weeks – broken only by stops at inadequate restroom facilities – and nights spent in ‘safe and secure’ parking sites that can feel anything but safe and secure do little to add to the job’s appeal.

“And of course, for a lot of drivers, the pay isn’t terribly good: stacking shelves in the local supermarket can be more financially rewarding – and that’s a career path that comes with the added bonus of allowing you to go home and have dinner with your family and sleep in your own bed at the end of each day.

“So, for years, experienced UK drivers have drifted out of the sector, and fewer and fewer young people have been persuaded to replace them. The logistics industry has always relied on a steady supply of drivers from Eastern Europe to plug the gaps, but Britain’s withdrawal from the EU means this is no longer an option.”

Walker concluded that with nearly a third of the UK’s HGV drivers estimated to be aged 55 and over, the driver shortage is only likely to get worse in the long term unless the logistics industry can find ways to make the role more appealing.

“A good way to start the process would be to recognise that HGV drivers are absolutely vital to any successful and cost-efficient supply chain and for the logistics industry to begin treating these vital workers with the respect that they deserve.”

Final thoughts

As you can see, this article illustrates how dire the situation has become, with worse forecast. Charlie Walker from Walker Logistics clearly explains the problems with the UK haulage industry. We concur wholeheartedly having staff and friends who have relatives as drivers or are drivers themselves.

Jordon Director Jon Swallow works in schools helping students with their career decisions, and whenever he mentions HGV driving, the result is almost always negative. “I always ask, but it’s become a bit of a running joke now, kids will reply it’s a job their Grandads do, or that the future is automated (think Elon)” Jon continues “It’s hard to argue with them, the industry has an image problem that unfortunately is now not just an image, it’s reality, and people know it.”

Whatever happens next, investment is now critically needed to train new drivers, but more importantly, to create conditions and an environment that supports a new generation of proud HGV drivers. Action needs to be taken fast.