Utopia Music has entered into a long-term contract to provide warehousing and logistics with supply-chain solutions provider DP World.
The move signals Utopia’s commitment to the UK’s physical music and video market, which was worth £500 million in 2022.
To facilitate Utopia’s growing operations, DP World is fitting out a specifically designed warehouse in Bicester. The 25,000 square metre site will include high-density storage and robotic transfer of product, to enable smooth and efficient distribution of over 30 million units a year across the UK and export markets.
The £100m-plus contract will provide a long-term facility for Utopia Distribution Services (UDS). Stock will be moving from UDS’ current warehouse in Aylesbury, which was inherited from Cinram, to the new facility across the summer.
According to the BPI, 17.3m physical albums were sold in the UK in 2022 – 67.1% of which were CDs. As vinyl continues its 16-year rise, last month, HMV announced plans to return to its original flagship store in London’s Oxford Street.
All jobs have been secured, with Utopia running a shuttle from Aylesbury to the new site 15 miles away. With more capacity for product, and online orders no longer needing to travel to a retailer’s warehouse on the way to the consumer, the distribution will be more efficient, resulting in less impact on the environment.
We are delighted to be doubling down on our commitment to the sector
Drew Hill, VP of distribution services, Utopia Music, said: “With physical music showing its resilience over and over again in recent times, we are delighted to be doubling down on our commitment to the sector with this £100m+ commitment. With state-of-the-art facilities, robotics and increased capacity at the new warehouse, we can’t wait to capitalise on this expansion for both our clients and customers.”
Rashid Abdulla, CEO and MD Europe, DP World, said: “This contract is a significant step in our journey as we expand our logistics offerings in the UK, and we are excited about working with Utopia in a fast-growing industry. We see this as a great opportunity to realise our investment in the best technological innovations to build agile, streamlined, and sustainable supply chain solutions that can respond to ever-changing challenges whilst minimising costs and reducing environmental impact.”
Kim Bayley, CEO of digital entertainment and retail association ERA, welcomed the move on behalf of the UK’s more than 3,000 physical entertainment stores and home delivery retailers.
“Despite the growth of streaming, physical formats are still an essential element if you want to have a hit album or video,” she said. “We welcome this substantial vote of confidence in entertainment’s physical future. Utopia have proven themselves to be collaborative partners. Such a massive move is never without risk, but we will be working closely with all sides to attempt to minimise any teething problems.”
Sophie Jones, BPI chief strategy officer and interim CEO, said: "This landmark announcement, and the strong vote of confidence in British recorded music that it represents, also reminds us that music on physical format continues to thrive and remains an important part of how music is made, distributed and enjoyed alongside streaming. We wish every success to this new endeavour, and the boost it will give to music consumption, jobs and exports.”
The new facility joins Utopia’s other warehouses in Dartford operated by Proper Music Group.