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Food storage manufacturer Sistema Plastics benefits from a flexible, responsive 3PL partner

A manufacturer of innovative food storage solutions is enjoying a fruitful relationship with its third party logistics (3PL) provider, who it says is playing a key role in ensuring the company meets its growth targets for the UK.

The manufacturer, Sistema Plastics UK Ltd, specialises in the design and manufacture of plastic storage boxes and container solutions for food and drink. Established in New Zealand more than 25 years ago, Sistema Plastics is now a global business, with operations in Australia, the US and the UK. Although the company entered the plastic homewares market some 12 years ago, the company is a relative newcomer to the UK, setting up here in May 2009.

Sistema Plastics injection moulds or blow moulds all of its products at the company’s highly automated production facility in Auckland, New Zealand. As John Prest, General Manager at Sistema Plastics UK Ltd states: "Our function here in the UK is to import these products, then distribute them to our customers. These clients range from major high street retailers such as Waitrose, John Lewis and J Sainsbury, through to small privately-owned restaurants and other small food outlets."

Sistema has built a strong reputation for providing its customers with innovative, high quality food and drinks storage solutions. The company’s ‘Klip It’ brand, for example, is a unique range of clip lock storage solutions that feature a compact stacking system to create intelligent, space-saving forms. All containers have a rubberised seal to keep food fresh and the containers are microwaveable, dishwasher-safe and suitable for the freezer.

John Prest continues: "In January 2009, following the set up of our UK operation in Chertsey, Surrey, we began looking for a suitable UK-based 3PL partner. We considered three or four different providers and carried out in-depth appraisals of each one. The shortlist included both major, well-known 3PL providers, as well as smaller, family-run logistics companies. In addition to contract price and services offered by the 3PL, it was important to Sistema that we also considered other critical factors."

"For example, we wanted to get a feel for the 3PL in terms of how quickly it was likely to react when we or our customer needed it to. Our major retail customers demand a very rapid response and high quality service levels, so we had to be sure that the 3PL we selected would be able and willing to react quickly to orders and changing delivery schedules. We weren’t quite sure if the larger 3PLs would respond quickly enough here and so we decided to work with a smaller 3PL who would provide us with a flexible, highly responsive logistics operation."

After months of evaluation, Prest says that he decided to work with RCS Logistics, a family-run, privately owned logistics provider based in Corby, Northamptonshire. This decision was based on several factors: "As well as being competitive on price, we felt that RCS would be able to offer a more personal, responsive service and a more collaborative, mutually beneficial partnership," says Prest.

Located in the heart of the UK’s logistics transport network, RCS Logistics provides distribution, logistics, transport and haulage solutions across the UK mainland and Europe. Services provided include same-day courier services, full 3PL, single pallet collection and delivery, as well as warehouse storage, including secure, dry bonded warehousing.

And nine months on, the partnership with Sistema is proving to be a successful one. As Steve Gray, Commercial Director at RCS Logistics comments: "We are providing a complete logistics service for Sistema, including receipt of containers at our Corby warehouse, full warehousing services and distribution to Sistema’s customer base, from small individual consignments up to full loads."

Logistics is a critical part of Sistema’s business, as John Prest confirms: "With major retail customers, if Sistema or RCS messes up an order or a delivery arrives late, we won’t get many, if any, more chances. The retailers are very specific about what they require and when they need to be delivered, so you need to have complete faith and trust in your 3PL."

He continues: "RCS is very reactive to our needs and the RCS directors are very approachable, which we wouldn’t get if we worked with a larger 3PL. Ideally, Sistema is looking for a trouble-free, smooth logistics operation that is as efficient as possible. In this respect, we are very happy with how RCS has performed over the last nine months. I guess you could say that RCS makes us feel wanted, which is very important when you are a relatively new business that is trying to gain a foothold in new markets."

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