“I’ve been working in logistics for 30 years and I’ve never seen demand like this,” says Robin Woodbridge. The company he works for, Prologis, owns and manages warehouse logistics parks across the UK. They’re building as fast as they can, but it’s been a struggle to keep pace with the boom in online shopping in recent years. And the pandemic has only served to accelerate the trend, making warehousing hot property.
Prologis’s biggest park, known as Dirft, is just off the M1 near Northampton. You can see the big sheds towering over the fields from the motorway. It’s a vast site with three rail freight terminals. When you click to buy online, there’s a good chance the product will start its journey here, whether that’s baked beans, laptops, furniture or fashion.
Despite its size, it’s not big enough.
Hundreds of construction workers are beavering away on expanding the site.
“We’re building buildings speculatively, which means we haven’t got a customer lined up, and we’re letting them before we finish, something which doesn’t happen very often,” says Mr Woodbridge, who is head of capital deployment for the firm.