It has seemingly been a bad run for industry in the West Midlands.

Automotive has been hit exceptionally hard - the Rover collapse, the Peugeot closure at Ryton in Coventry and the demise of Jaguar's Browns Lane plant.

Outwith the region Vauxhall's Ellesmere Port plant is under threat - something a bit personal because, having been brought up on the Wirral, I have regularly driven past the plant.

Now another icon is going - HP Sauce.

I've never liked the stuff but it has somehow haunted me since my boarding school days - so long ago that the late HP Sauce loving Harold Wilson was Prime Minister.

It used to be on the table every lunch and dinner.

So influential was it that if you left mess and gunge around the top of the bottle it was known as "doing a Harold Wilson".

A worrying number of West Midlands firms have simply gone bust in one form or another - Firmin, Cradley Print, Eliza Tinsley.

There is of course no constant theme.

Some would point at globalisation and the ruthlessness of multi-nationals.

It has become fashionable to blame pension deficits.

I would rather suggest it simply boils down to competition and poor management.

As a trading nation Britain lives and dies on competition. We only waste energy if we moan about the Chinese or the East Europeans.

We can do something about poor management and finally are. But I don't think we should get overly worried about all these things.

As one door closes another tends to open.

Tomorrow Direct, the internet trading arm of health and beauty retailer Boots, officially opens its new warehouse at The Fort off the M6 in Birmingham.

These are jobs which never existed when I was turning my nose up at HP Sauce all those years ago. Because the internet did not exist.

The complex, operated by iForce, is desinged to handle and supply online orders - efulfilment is about sending individual parcels of goods bought on websites direct to the customer, very different from delivering bulk loads to retail stores.

And increasingly geography is putting Midlands logistics companies at the forefront of the web shopping boom.

Some 75 per cent of the UK's population is within range of a half day's truck journey of the Midlands while the major sea ports of Felixstowe, Dover and Hull are within easy reach.

Given too we are still for the moment Britain's industrial heartland, then the region is ideally placed to be the centre of the UK's distribution business. More than 300 specialist distribution and logistics companies have based their operations in the West Midlands - drive along the region's major motorways and you will spot the "sheds".

And e-fulfilment is set to become more common as online retail growth continues. In 2005, UK consumers bought £8.4 billion worth of goods from websites. That's closing in on the £9.4 billion they spent in high street department stores.

So don't write off the West Midlands just yet please. ..SUPL: