Interview with Kerry Delaney, regional managing director, Europe North & West, Rhenus Warehousing Solutions UK
What does your company do and what is your USP?
Rhenus Warehousing Solutions UK is a logistics specialist that provides sustainable warehousing, fulfilment and returns processing to both online and high-street retailers across a range of sectors.
The company was originally founded in 1990 under the name Core Management Logistics (CML) and over the past 30 years has built up a foundation of expertise, that has ensured the logistics provider is a leader in the industry.
This expertise has allowed Rhenus to develop its tailored, human-led approach in delivering a quality service for its customers, building strong relationships, particularly within the fashion industry, and doing much more than offering a ’paid-for service’. A partnership is built with every client, which allows Rhenus to go beyond the role of a service provider and become an integral part of each of its customers’ supply chains.
Rhenus currently operates out of four warehouses at Magna Park in Lutterworth, Leicestershire, and is in the process of expanding to Nuneaton, Warwickshire, with two brand-new sustainable warehouses, which, together, will be known as the ’Rhenus Campus’.
How do you deliver on this USP?
The upcoming ‘Rhenus Campus’ in Nuneaton is uniquely positioned to deliver on the company’s commitments to sustainability, whilst maintaining a human-led approach to its services.
The site will consist of two warehouses totalling one million square feet, the equivalent of 36 football pitches. One will be completed this year and the other in early 2023.
The development will be certified BREEAM Outstanding upon completion, which is evidence of the commitment Rhenus has to creating a highly sustainable environment that also enhances the health and well-being of its employees. The site will fully adhere to the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) net zero operational carbon framework following on-site generation from solar panels and air source heat pumps as well as provide a car park fitted with electric car charging points.
Rhenus is also leading the way with its focus on biodiversity and has taken great care to ensure the landscape surrounding the site is an ideal habitat for local wildlife. These measures include planting a wide variety of trees at the boundaries of the site, which will provide foraging, species-rich grasslands, a dedicated wildflower meadow and a pond surrounded by native shrubs, all of which will create a high-quality environment and improve biodiversity by attracting birds, pollinating insects and mammals.
In addition, Rhenus is ensuring that nothing from the build is wasted, by recycling felled trees and making them into shelters to accommodate a wide range of species local to the area including customised bird boxes suitable for blue tits, wrens, and sparrows.
The recycled wood will also be used to make bat boxes, which will be regularly checked by a licensed bat ecologist, and insect houses, which will host invertebrates and butterflies.
What retailer needs do you fulfil?
Rhenus ensures its clients meet the ever-increasing demands of consumers by providing a warehousing solution that goes beyond the typical, ‘paid-for’ fulfilment service.
Rhenus provides sustainable warehousing, systemic pick and pack, B2B and B2C order fulfilment, value-added services and comprehensive returns management.
Retailers can gain from increased efficiency, guaranteed speed to market, and the ability to handle peak volumes, with the added benefit of support for their sustainability goals, all of which can be particularly challenging.
How would you describe your vision?
Rhenus is first and foremost a family business, and that foundation is an essential component of the company’s vision.The warehousing and logistics specialist takes a human-led approach to its business, creating partnerships with both its customers and its employees. Closeness and understanding are present in everything Rhenus does and have been crucial to the growth and success of the company.
How would you describe your growth, what have been the main points in your expansion and what has been key to your success?
A key point in Rhenus Warehousing Solutions UK’s growth and expansion was its acquisition by the Rhenus Group in 2019. The Rhenus Group is a pioneer in the logistics sector, and with the support and backing of this well-established industry expert, the company was able to grow rapidly, expand to new locations and take on new employees. This growth period is an exciting time, for Rhenus and its team has worked tirelessly throughout every stage of the process to ensure its success.
Which retailers do you work with?
Rhenus works with distinguished brands, from high-street retailers to online vendors across a range of sectors, including fashion, health and beauty, toys, and homeware.
What challenges are you addressing for multichannel retailers who aim to meet peak season demands?
Rhenus is able to handle the demands of peak seasons with ease by using the latest innovations in IT and automation, in addition to its flexible and dynamic labour planning systems. These systems ensure that sufficient capacity is always available, used effectively and reserved for the tasks it’s most needed for. This careful planning means that customers receive the same high standard of service regardless of the time of year, and that retailers don’t have to worry about warehousing so they can focus all of their energy on their relationships with their customers.
How are you using the emerging technology to support retail growth?
Rhenus fully embraces emerging technology and incorporates new innovations in automation to benefit its customers. The upcoming ‘Rhenus Campus’ will be fitted with the most up-to-date advancements in AI, automation and warehouse management systems, meaning that retailers will benefit from flexible solutions and easy control of the supply chain.
What do you see as challenges for the supply chain and logistics sector over the coming years? How are you prepared to meet those challenges?
Some of the challenges the logistics sector will face are hitting net zero carbon emissions, the rising cost of energy and labour, and obtaining the space needed to meet customers’ growing needs.
Rhenus Warehousing Solutions UK is preparing to face these challenges in a number of ways. Its brand-new development in Nuneaton will fully adhere to the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) net zero operational carbon framework following on-site generation from solar panels, which will help their customers achieve their sustainability goals, whilst a full sensor suite and building information modelling create a “Digital Twin” to support the commitment to transparency at all times.
The measures taken at the new sites to encourage biodiversity, such as planting native hedgerows, ornamental and native shrubs, the installation of bird, bat and insect homes, and planting native trees which have been nursery grown, will also help customers meet their sustainability goals by reducing their overall impact on the environment.
What targets are you aiming to achieve in the next five years?
Rhenus has committed to achieving a reduction of its direct emissions by 60 percent by 2030. This is the first step on its journey to achieving net zero carbon emissions, which is a Rhenus Group initiative to achieve by the year 2045.
The logistics supplier also aims to become more competitive by reducing costs through embracing technological innovation, careful labour planning and constantly improving processes to make them more efficient.
Rhenus Warehousing Solutions UK in brief
Founders: Part of The Rhenus Group, previously Core Management Logistics (CML)
Founding date: 1990 as CML
HQ location: Magna Park, Lutterworth. The Rhenus Group HQ is based in Germany
About Rhenus: The Rhenus Group is one of the leading logistics specialists with global business operations and annual turnover amounting to EUR 7.0 billion. 37,500 employees work at 970 business sites and develop innovative solutions along the complete supply chain. Whether providing transport, warehousing, customs clearance or value-added services, the family-owned business pools its operations in various business units where the needs of customers are the major focus at all times.