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the inexorable advance of the amazon super sheds.

Now more than ever, Amazon has become an intrinsic part of our everyday lives. It has been one of the big winners during lockdown with around US$33m an hour in sales since the crisis began.

In the UK, its ability to dominate the market depends on logistical might. Since it arrived in the country in 1998, it has focused on creating a series of enormous warehouses, often known as super sheds, that now dot the landscape from Dunfermline to Dunstable. The online retail giant currently has 22 depots in the UK, with 3 in Doncaster alone.

Fulfilment centres

Since 2017 with the construction of its facility in Bristol, Amazon has been creating its own fulfilment centres - the company's preferred terminology - rather than converting existing warehouse space. 

In 2018, it redeveloped an old Jaguar Land Rover site into a 430,000 sq ft receive centre. That was dwarfed by its third logistics centre in Doncaster which clocks in at a gigantic 1.1m sq ft or 14 football pitches.

By taking control of constructing its own purpose-built facilities, Amazon has been able to introduce high levels of automation. But it's the sheer size and scale of these fulfilment centres that dwarfs the competition. The Symmetry Park facility near Darlington covers an incredible 1.99m sq ft and cost £147.3m in the biggest property transaction in the region.

Unlimited growth?

Setting aside the unprecedented boost in online spending provided by lockdown, the UK has the highest online purchasing penetration in the world, with over 1 in 5 purchases made online.

And the warehousing and logistics market is only set to grow, having suffered a temporary setback after the EU referendum. In 2018, property investor Segro saw a healthy jump in its profits as e-commerce continued to drive the demand for warehouse space. And Winvic, which won the Symmetry Park contract, predicts a further 3-5 years of solid growth at a similar pace.

Opened this May, the Darlington fulfilment centre has created 1000 permanent jobs for the area and was described as a milestone moment for the area by the leader of the borough council. The new site is predicted to be a catalyst for growth in the region and deploys Amazon's most advanced Robotics technology.

Amazon construction?

So far Amazon's super warehouses have been built by UK construction firms, but back in 2018, Forbes was predicting that construction could be the next disruption for the American tech giant. The acquisition of a modular construction start-up and heavy investment in smart home technology seemed to indicate a move in that direction.
As Amazon ramps up its physical expansion, and the construction industry continues to embrace digital technologies, there's a definite synergy between the two. As a business that has built its success on the vertical integration of its diverse operations, a move into design and development seems highly likely.

In the meantime, a slightly more modest redevelopment of a site once occupied by homewares giant The Range in Plymouth is Amazon's latest project. The new delivery station for the e-commerce giant is set to open later this year. It seems the UK hasn't seen the last of Amazon's supersheds.

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