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What’s in store for the UK removals industry?

Mar 15, 2013
Alistair Bingle, MD of Bishop's Move, looks back at 2012 and forward to 2013.

Managing Director of Bishop's Move Alistair looks back on what has shaped the industry in the past and what’s in store in 2013

Reports have so far predicted that UK housing transactions will hit a million for the first time since 2007 with mortgage lending levels rising to 650,000 new loans. If accurate, this is fantastic news for everyone connected to the removals industry.

With this small hint of a green shoot of recovery it is helpful for us to remain positive. `As the housing market picks up, the removals industry will recover, and a brighter economic forecast will be widely predicted come the end of this year. However, a climb back to success for the domestic removal market will be a long and demanding process. The collapse in demand, on-going issues with fuel prices – which I believe will play a part in the introduction of more "Move Manager" companies due to the escalating costs in operating vehicles - and more cost-conscious customers have all taken their toll on the moving sector.

However, we will rise to these challenges; although I can only see the removals industry remaining fairly flat until the housing market picks up, which is not predicted until 2014 at the earliest. This will make it the longest housing recession since records began.

The removals sector isn’t alone when it comes to suffering from a recession. As an industry, we often sadly witness casualties, yet many firms have weathered previous recessions, and this one is no exception. Removals companies and their clients can, by equipping themselves with the right knowledge and responding to it, position and adapt themselves to be fitter for the future.

Since I joined the industry in 1984 I would say the single biggest change, both from the industry's perspective and that of Bishop's Move, has been the proliferation of self-storage companies, which have undoubtedly taken the storage market share away from the traditional removal companies.  This has made the mainstream removal business look more at their margin on the removal than rely, as they have in the past, on the profitability from storage margin. However, what is a critical issue to the removals industry is the professional price that the industry can charge for undertaking a professional removal.  The industry is very easily entered into and left with very little start-up costs, which in turn encourages fewer professional companies charging a cheaper rate.  The professional part of the industry, represented by the British Association of Removers, needs to clearly differentiate to the public, the differences between the white van and his man and a professional removal company.

I remain proud of what I’ve achieved in the industry and can say without a doubt that becoming managing director at Bishop’s Move is my career highlight. What is great about working for a family-run business is invariably you are treated as an individual rather than an employee number. I believe that creates a more caring company. I have absolutely no regrets looking back and continue to be excited by my job and working with such enthusiastic and committed people at Bishop’s Move.


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