Interview

INTERVIEW: An exclusive chat with UKWA’s new CEO Clare Bottle

Clare Bottle takes the role of CEO of the UK Warehousing Association from July 1. Ahead of her start eDelivery.net caught up with Clare for an exclusive interview about her plans and how she wants to ensure warehousing becomes more inclusive in every way.

Congratulations on the new role, can you tell eDelivery.net a little more about yourself and why this role appealed to you?

Above all, logistics is a community; one where I’ve always endeavoured to play an active part, for example as a fellow and former board director of the CILT, or a trustee of Transaid.  The UKWA is the best trade association in logistics and I’m delighted to have been appointed to lead it, at a time when public recognition of our sector is better than ever before.

You have an impressive 25 year career in the warehousing industry, working for a number of big names, what have been the most significant changes you have witnessed during that time?  

The safety culture in warehousing is much better than when I started out and rightly so.  Taking the long view, I now see this as part of our journey towards sustainability: protecting people and the planet, as well as profits.  The UKWA’s recent report on the UK warehousing sector shows remarkable growth too, so it’s even more vibrant and exciting than when I began my career.

What are your immediate plans for the association? 

I’m pleased to say the UKWA’s membership numbers and finances are in good shape despite the pandemic, a testament to the hard work and good judgement of my predecessor Peter Ward.  I can promise that my agenda will focus on talent and sustainability, but I’m going to start by getting to know our members.

As a founder member of Women in Logistics how will you be using your role to bring further visibility of women in the industry? 

I didn’t set out to become a role-model, but in taking on this high-profile job I hope to demonstrate that women belong in every part of the logistics sector.  A truly diverse workforce isn’t just about women though, so I want to tackle other stereotypes too, ensuring warehousing becomes more inclusive in every way.

What are the most pressing issues you believe those in the industry are facing? 

Everyone in the logistics industry is talking about the driver shortage, but there are similar issues in warehousing.  The shift towards online shopping is changing everything from network design to consumer relationships and driving growth, so we need talented people to drive our fork-lift trucks, programme our systems, install our robotics, lead our teams and more…

How will the UKWA aim to help members with those issues? 

Firstly, by fostering dialogue within the membership, to evaluate the skills gap, agree priorities and build consensus.  Then by collaborating with the education sector, policy-makers and other trade organisations to make our industry an increasingly attractive place to work.

How will we continue to see the warehousing market evolve over the next year or two? 

Although the Midlands “golden triangle” will remain warehousing’s heartland, I expect a combination of consumer trends (such as e-retail, potentially driving distribution centres closer to residential areas) as well as planning constraints, labour availability and land prices will influence the geographical shape of the sector.  Our preoccupation with sustainability is here to stay too.  And throughout everything, the UKWA will be here to support its members.

Image credits:
  • UKWA