The man credited with revolutionising Britain’s logistics and distribution industry has been honoured for his work over the past 40 years.
Palletforce Chairman John Brotherton has been handed the Lifetime Achievement Award at the highly acclaimed IFW Awards in London.
Mr Brotherton, 65, is one of the industry’s ‘unsung heroes’ and has overseen some of the sector’s biggest advances.
"It has been a privilege to serve the industry for so many years," said Mr Brotherton, who is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Transport, and the Institute of Logistics.
"It’s an honour to be handed a lifetime achievement award, but I would also like to think I still have a lot more to offer the sector."
Amongst his many achievements Mr Brotherton has been involved in developing the UK’s first track-and-trace system in a Contract Distribution company, setting up the first responsive pallet network using different depots, and creating the UK’s first real pan-European distribution network.
He added: "There have been many changes over the years that have helped mould the transport industry into its current shape. It is wonderful to think that I have played a part in that and at the same time enjoyed every minute of it."
One of Mr Brotherton’s biggest successes began in 1979 when he joined the family-owned Swift Transport Services, where he increased turnover from £2million to £110million – with the number of staff rising from 110 to 3,000.
Following the merger of Swift into the LEP Group in 1988, Mr Brotherton became CEO of the LEP-Swift pan-European distribution network, with operations across eight countries. This included Swift as the UK network member where he retained the roles of Chairman and CEO of Swift. He then became Worldwide CEO of LEP’s logistics and distribution operations.
In 1991 Mr Brotherton led the management buyout of Swift, which was sold to Christian Salvesen two years later for £85million – making it, at the time, the most successful UK-based management buyout in terms of increased equity.
Following a spell on the board of Salvesen, Mr Brotherton spent three years as CEO of Securicor Logistics where he was on the joint board with Deutsche Post. In 2000 he joined parcels company ANC Group, which was sold to FedEx for $120m in 2006.
Today Mr Brotherton is continuing his work in shaping the industry as Chairman of Palletforce, one of the UK’s leading palletised distribution networks.
Palletforce CEO Michael Conroy, who is himself considered one of the rising stars of the sector, said working with Mr Brotherton had been a real inspiration.
He said: "As well as his achievements, John is the most genuine individual I have worked with. He is fair and honest, extremely challenging and not afraid to challenge the status quo. My career has benefited from it, as have countless others."