As 2015 comes to a close independent logistics operator, Europa Worldwide Group, says that it is now starting to reap the benefits of what it describes as two complex years of restructuring.
Europa’s Managing Director, Andrew Baxter, acquired the business in August 2013 with a 90 per cent stake and set about a massive front end restructuring, completely overhauling the business – a process which started in January 2014. Although the journey has been extremely complex, including some operational problems and significant reorganisation costs, the benefits are now being felt both internally and externally by customers.
Major milestones in 2014 included construction starting on the business’ new £30m, 26,368 square metre logistics facility in Dartford, the biggest single investment in the company’s history.
The business also set to work expanding its UK footprint and reorganising its road freight sales and customer services functions. A fifth of Europa’s entire workforce was appointed in 2014 alone. Other developments included two new branches opening in Nottingham and Leeds, the expansion of the Southampton branch and the relocation of its Newcastle and Manchester sites.
The new management took the decision to split the company into three clear operating divisions, Air & Sea, Warehouse and Road. This created national structures split by activity, rather than the regionalised structures that existed previously.
2014 also saw the recruitment of nine software developers engaged in the creation of the company’s new £1.7m road freight system named Leonardo. Phase one is due to be complete in Q2 of 2016 and is designed to streamline operations which will further benefit its customers and partners.
Europa has reported a growth of nine per cent in turnover in 2014 but with profits down to £237k. Andrew Baxter stated:
“The lower profit is directly related to restructuring costs, now that these short term costs are behind us we are seeing a strong recovery in profitability.
“The past two years have been hard work but also very exciting. I believe the types of changes we have made would take many businesses 10 or 15 years to implement. Every step we have taken has been absolutely necessary to enable the company to continue to grow, but it has required significant investment and we have faced some difficult challenges. I am hugely grateful for the loyalty and commitment we have seen from all of our staff and most importantly our customers, who have stuck with us throughout the whole process. Despite the teething issues, we’ve pushed through the pain and now we are definitely feeling the benefit.”
Europa’s Dartford investment came to fruition in May this year when the business moved its entire operation and over 250 employees there from its previous site in Erith. The new site is now the UK’s largest European groupage hub which sees all 11 of Europa’s UK regional branches trunk directly into it. Launched on 1st August 2015, Europa channels all its volume through 1hub and has therefore been able to increase its number of direct, daily departures to the continent, with plans to switch all lines to daily over the next 12 months.
This has strengthened Europa’s offering enormously, particularly for its northern customer base. Previously 40 per cent of its northern business would be routed via Birmingham and Erith adding time and cost. The change has increased overall efficiency, with domestic and international trailer fill up by an estimated 18 per cent.
Its dedicated Air & Sea division has seen strong growth since its conception in 2014, reporting a 17 per cent increase in its year on year volumes.
In closing the northern hub function the company transferred the vacated warehousing space into its logistics division. Europa has now filled this space and the additional warehouse space in Dartford, implementing a number of new long-term contracts including market-leading trade sector brands as well as blue chip companies.
“My ultimate goal with Europa is to see it become the clear market leader and to achieve that we have to be ambitious,” continued Andrew.
“Pushing the boundaries, challenging ourselves and how we operate is the only way we will continue to innovate and stay ahead of the game. Our customers have given us incredible support and having delivered all of these changes, we are now offering even better quality of service and are extremely well placed for the New Year and beyond.”