Palletways Group, established some 20 years ago as one of the first express palletised freight networks in the UK, is now setting its sights on dominating the European marketplace by taking its business model further into Europe. And it’s a strategy that the company believes will put significant mileage between them and the rest of the market.
Whilst its competitors went down the route of sub-contracting pan-European services, Palletways has been busy developing its own infrastructure over the last decade or so since it first launched a network in Italy.
Group Chief Executive, James Wilson, said: “Of course it was a risk at the time and some business models are not always easily transferrable to other markets. But there’s a certain amount of risk to doing any business, it’s just important you do your homework, make the right judgement and stick to your principles.
“We were very confident that we could mirror our success across Europe, particularly as express palletised freight networks were a niche opportunity. We could offer an extremely efficient logistics solution, providing both cost and customer benefits – an attractive win-win business proposition. The recession across Europe was a further boost for us as businesses were really forced to look at their operations including their supply chains.”
Palletways has not looked back since its first venture into Italy in 2002. It now boasts 12 hubs across 14 European countries including Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Slovakia, Spain and the United Kingdom.
The Group’s expansion is reflected in growth in volumes both domestically in the countries it serves in mainland Europe but also between countries, which saw a 35% increase last year and is predicted to rise another 50% in the 12 months ahead.
Key to the expansion and success of the Group’s operations across Europe has been its investment in IT to provide a value rich service for customers. This started with the development of a bespoke pan-European IT platform that enabled deliveries between its different networks in Europe and has continued with the recent introduction of the digital information hub. This is designed to greatly enhance operational efficiencies and the customer experience by optimising the use of live data. The technology provides extensive operational and customer data in real time to improve processes, communication, traffic planning and vehicle utilisation.
Other recent key developments driving growth include: offering services to Austria; the creation of a centralised customer service in Madrid; increasing the frequency of line hauls through the introduction of daily services between several hubs including London and Nijmegen, London and Paris, Paris and Madrid; and investment in domestic networks such as a new hub in Milan.
Rachael Alpha, Managing Director at Palletways Europe GmBH, added: “These are very exciting times for the Group. Our European expansion continues to present significant competitive advantage as we can collect all of our customer’s freight on one vehicle and deliver to 14 countries across Europe. They can also feel reassured as they are just dealing with Palletways, meaning they will have the same positive experience whether their goods are destined for Madrid, Manchester, Milan, Munich or Maastricht.
“Last year we invested some €1.4m which helped achieve a record year for cross border volumes and we look forward to building on this growth significantly during 2015.”
And there is no slowing down as more developments are planned for the near future including extending services into Switzerland and six Eastern European countries, as well as completing a new increased capacity hub in Germany.