The Norfolk-based operation, which handles logistics for wine merchants, drinks companies and retailers including Halfwine, Vine & Cork, The Wine Society and Buoyant, have seen average daily orders for some clients rise by over 7,000% and demand shows signs of remaining high.
“Alcohol has definitely led the surge in demand for food and drink” says Iain Hill, Head of Commercial and Customer Services for Johnston Logistics UK. “Whilst demand rocketed overnight for almost all the food and drink we handle, it’s wine, beer, cocktails and spirits which have seen the biggest and most sustained rise.”
Johnston Logistics UK handle food, drink, household products and other fast-moving consumer goods for a wide range of manufacturers, suppliers and retailers. In partnership with Asda, their site also processes around 50% of all wine sold in their UK supermarkets.
“The explosion in demand has been comparable to the Christmas period, but happened almost instantaneously” adds Iain. “Fortunately, we were able to use our years of seasonal experience to help our clients and their suppliers to meet the challenges and take advantage of the peak.”
Johnston Logistics UK typically handle over 20,000 pallets of alcoholic drinks each year but predict they may see this figure almost double for 2020 as a whole. One of the few HMRC Bonded Warehouses in East Anglia, Johnson Logistics UK can import, export and distribute beer, wine and spirits, whilst deferring tax and duties.
As well as alcoholic drinks, their 650,000 square feet operation on the A11 in Norfolk also handles food including products and ingredients for Kettle Foods, Quorn and 2 Sisters Food Group.
Though the demand for non-essential goods paused as the UK lockdown took effect, Johnston Logistics UK are now seeing a return in demand for other products they handle such as homewares, stationery, commercial products and components.
“We helped many clients and other businesses to quickly store their excess goods as retail and factories closed” states Iain, ”However, since early May we’ve seen demand begin to rise again and many are returning to more normal levels of throughput as retail looks set to reopen.”
As the implications of coronavirus and the UK lockdown hit, Johnston Logistics UK’s attentions first turned to protecting their staff, in particular supporting vulnerable colleagues to isolate and minimising staff in their offices. Other measures have been introduced throughout their operations to ensure social distancing, maximise hygiene and minimise risks to staff and visitors alike.
Handling over 1 million transactions each year, Johnston Logistics UK provide a full range of third-party logistics, from receiving, storing and distributing products, to individually fulfilling eCommerce orders.