Warehouse & Logistics News: First of all, what does your role involve day to day?
Has it changed since last year? – GH: My role is primarily to keep developing business with new and existing clients and involves a considerable amount of travelling and meetings across the UK and Europe. It is a great job as there are so many different and diverse businesses out there which means there is very little repetition and always something new and exciting to become involved in. In terms of my role changing in the last year the simple answer is, not really; apart from the fact as the business continues to grow I have a lot more to do and less free time!
W&LN: 2013 – How was it for you? – GH: The last year has once again shown very strong and consistent growth for us; with 43 new projects carried out for a total of 30 clients of which 80% were new and 20% existing clients, with additional projects for us to work on with them.
I attribute our continuing growth and success to a number of key factors which are testament to the significant expertise and capabilities of our Directors and consultant team; repeat business and referrals from our existing clients, increased brand awareness and our ever growing reputation in the market. There have been (and in some cases still are) some tough times for many companies and we have proven time and time again that we can provide practical and implementable solutions that yield significant value to our clients’ logistics and supply chain operations. Proof of this is demonstrated with the excellent feedback we get in the form of client testimonials, all of which can be seen on our website.
W&LN: How has the consulting category been performing this year? – GH: I think that you will get different answers to this question depending on who you ask in the consulting industry. I know that some companies in our sector have had tougher times than we have over the last 12 to 18 months and have not performed as well as they would have wished. I believe that the key to our successful business model is operating from a low cost base. We are in serviced offices with a small support team and providing our significant expertise at sensible and affordable rates for our clients; ensuring that we provide them with value and implementable solutions with real benefits. The simple fact is that we run our business as we would recommend our clients to run theirs so we ‘practice what we preach’. Some of our competitors who have traditionally charged over inflated rates, whilst operating from a high cost base with ‘over specified’ office premises and too many office based support staff have suffered recently as a result.
W&LN: Have you moved into any new business areas in the last 12 months? – GH: We have worked in some areas that are different to our traditional business and these include work for regional Police forces in the public sector and Offshore and Subsea Construction in the private sector.
W&LN: What was your biggest investment to improve your business this year? – GH: We always invest in marketing, systems and personnel to ensure that we maintain our position as one of the leading Supply Chain and Logistics consultancies in the UK. The return on our investments is measured by the impressive number of new clients and projects we have had in 2013.
W&LN: What’s been your company’s single biggest achievement in business this year? – GH – That’s an easy one to answer – we reached a milestone of having developed and tendered €1BN worth of logistics contracts across Europe.
W&LN: What was your favorite business moment in 2013? – GH – For me personally it was being invited to appear live on Sky News as an ’expert’ studio guest for the lead story that evening on the Sky News Business program – Jeff Randall Live. It was specifically to discuss the issues with food contamination which became known as ‘the horse meat scandal’ on the day that Tesco CEO, Phillip Clarke, addressed the NFU in making specific commitments regarding Tesco’s product sourcing policies. It was both exciting and terrifying as I had never done live television before and you don’t get any briefing beforehand. They called me in the morning, asked me to be in the studio in London by 6pm, where the production assistant greats you with a cup of coffee, you wait around and then it’s five minutes in makeup and you just get put into a studio with Jeff Randall and he asks you questions and challenges your answers – great stuff!
W&LN: Do you operate in any other countries besides the UK? How are you getting on there? Have you gone into any new territories recently? – GH – We operate across Europe and have done for many years. Recently we have had projects in Turkey, Poland, Czech Republic and even Kazakhstan.
W&LN: Can you tell us about your major projects this year and what they involved? – GH – We have been working for a number of months with PaperlinX Group, across a number of geographical territories in Europe and the UK to review their extensive logistics operations. PaperlinX is one of the world’s largest suppliers of communication materials with just over 6,000 employees, operating in 26 countries. The UK operations are the largest in Europe and include well-known companies such as Robert Horne Group, Howard Smith Paper Group and PaperCo. PaperlinX operates its corporate head office in Melbourne, Australia and its global operational head office in the UK.
Other projects have been for major brand names such as Farmfoods (frozen food retail chain), Acushnet (manufacturers of golf equipment brands such as Titleist, Pinnacle and FootJoy), Scott Bader (the global chemical manufacturer) and News International.
W&LN: Technology is certainly playing an important role in today’s logistics operations how do you as a consulting business stay abreast of technology changes and new innovation? – GH: It is crucial for us to be aware of and understand the application of the latest technology that is available in the marketplace. However most important is how that technology can be applied or is relevant to clients’ needs. We have good relationships with many of the supply chain management, warehouse management and transport management system developers and integrators, who keep us updated on a regular basis and of course we work with a number of these companies on projects that we are involved with.
In terms of innovation it is important to identify what is true innovation or something that is a nice idea, or worse still existing technology or process just ‘re-packaged’. The very nature of the highly competitive logistics and supply chain industry with a huge amount of people involved in it means that there are relatively few true new innovations as say compared to 20 years ago when I first started in the industry. It is of most benefit and importance for us to understand the cost effective application of technology and innovation to practical real life.
W&LN: Can you tell us about your plans for 2014? Where do you see your business going? – GH: I can safely say more of the same – increased growth, new clients, repeat business from our existing clients and a steady flow of interesting and challenging projects. 2014 is also our tenth year of trading which we will be celebrating in some way (yet to be decided).
W&LN: Are you looking at taking on more staff or expanding your premises next year? – GH: We are actually due to move the consultant and administration support staff offices to new premises in January 2014, to an excellent location just off the M40 with superb office and meeting room facilities. Our main office and correspondence address (which is where our accounts staff are based) will remain the same at Wigg House in the town center, but the new consultant offices will be more accessible from main roads for our clients and provide ample parking.
W&LN: What other headline news from Gideon Hillman can our readers look forward to reading about in Warehouse & Logistics News next year? – GH: As always it will be informative industry case studies and strong opinions on different subjects within the Warehouse and Logistics sector – exactly what though; you will have to wait and see!