So far in 2015, the growth in white collar logistics recruitment has been astounding with the market becoming increasingly candidate driven. The final third of the year is still to come and for many traditional retailers, e-retailers and logistics organisations, this is the most important and challenging period of the year; the peak.
It’s bizarre to think that while many of us in the logistics industry are unpacking from holidays and preparing to send our children back to school, behind the scenes there are well laid plans are being carefully orchestrated in preparation for the upcoming peak period.
The growth of dotcom retail last year was simply astonishing. It was largely due to the rise of the ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Cyber Monday’ phenomena which are still new to the UK. In 2010, Amazon brought the little known ‘Black Friday’ sales event to the UK but not until last year did it really take off. Many more retailers took part and benefitted from staggering e-commerce and retail sales figures. For John Lewis, ‘Black Friday’ helped contribute to a 22.6% year on year online increase of their Christmas sales. However, these surges in sales did not run completely faultlessly. The websites of many major retailers struggled under the volume of consumers on the front end while those unsung heroes in distribution centres and parcel delivery networks were put under considerable strain by the sheer volume in sales over a relatively short period of time.
The current trend of month on month increases in retail sales suggests that the 2015 peak will be the busiest and most challenging yet.
Lessons have, to a degree, been learnt from last year and in most cases, logistics processes have been streamlined and improved to support the continuing growth of online. With more and more retailers looking to capitalise, a major concern moving forward will be the supply of labour. In many cases the window for recruiting new permanent managers is rapidly closing; available candidates are in short supply and with the peak period rapidly approaching time to get fully prepared is running out. Issues facing the training and hiring of supervisory and management personnel have the potential to significantly impact service and delivery during the crucial peak period. To fill the gaps in management teams, one of the most logical options is to look towards experienced interim managers.
It is critical to appreciate the need to provide candidates who have experience beyond the level they are supporting so that they can cater for the heightened challenges that the peak period poses. This often means that out of work operations managers will be supporting anti-social shift roles where there is all too often an absence of senior management.
This out of work contingent represents a very small percentage of the talent pool. Some e-retailers moved to place interim managers as early as six weeks ago to reduce the risk of being short staffed during the high volume period. It is almost inconceivable to learn that almost all affected sectors will now judge any cost implications as a minor consideration at this time while capability to deliver becomes the foremost concern.
More senior strategic and operational roles are now being resourced on an interim basis where existing core staff do not have necessary skills to meet critical business needs. Interim managers offer maximum flexibility, charging a daily rate and often working only a few days a week depending on project requirements. However, for most companies these needs begin in earnest while we weather the impending storm which peak will bring.
In the event that you may need to bolster your team during the peak, now is the time to act. The best interims are already being snapped up and it will pay off to handle the hiring now rather than at the last minute, ensuring you deliver to your potential during peak 2015. 
Contact Phil Townend, Manager at Michael Page Logistics to discuss you recruitment needs.
T: +44 1908 302 416