Asda has signed up to a company marketing itself as the “Airbnb” of logistics, in a bid to recoup income from excess distribution space.
The Walmart-owned supermarket giant has registered all 18 of its distribution centres with online matchmaker Stowga, with excess space being hired in short-term tenancies to a raft of food and drink suppliers.
One such deal involved Asda hiring space at one of its warehouses in the Midlands to frozen food supplier Oakland International, to store thousands of Christmas turkeys and other festive food in space which would otherwise have sat empty.
Stowga is now marketing its services to other retailers, claiming the offer is a way for supermarkets to remodel their logistics to take account of sweeping changes caused by the shift to online shopping.
“We are an online marketplace and the best description would probably be an Airbnb for the warehousing industry,” said CEO Charlie Pool.
“What we find is that many warehouses out there in the market are only about 75% full. At any one time 25% of the space is empty which is a huge amount of space, which can be unlocked by our marketplace.”
The company was formed in 2016 but Pool said it was delighted to have secured “premium warehouse space” from the likes of Asda to offer to potential clients.
“Asda got in touch with us to examine the idea because it had some sites which were not full.
“It now has multiple deals through our platform. All its warehouses are now listed with us and because it’s a big retailer they are in prime locations.
“For food and drink companies they also offer the latest technology and have the best accreditation when it comes to things like storing chilled food.
“From Asda’s point of view it’s tens of thousands of pounds in extra income every week. It sunk its costs into buying these warehouses years ago so it’s all upside for it.
“Retailers have been hit hard by the market moving very quickly and they have to be more proactive in how they use their real estate.
“I think Asda has been very forward-thinking about its logistics space and this is a great example.”
The deal with Oakland saw the company take space at Asda’s massive warehouse at Magna Park, in Lutterworth, near Birmingham.
“Using Stowga to find spare warehousing capacity over Christmas not only saved us weeks of manual work but also helped us find the best suited warehouse on the market, saving us a significant amount of time and money versus alternatives,” said Oakland International commercial director Robert Hardy.
Asda commercial operations manager Rob Symons added: “Using the Stowga platform helps bring opportunities that we would otherwise never see, and allows us to market our space, on our terms, to make the most of our warehousing assets.”