Connecting the cities of the future

As can be seen in its involvement in a myriad of rail projects across the Middle East region, Bombardier Transportation understands that good transport connections are vital for quality of life and economic growth

Across the Middle East, a number of countries can today be found to be accelerating their respective transition towards more sustainable transportation models, with investment at an all-time high and rail projects being prioritised at local, regional and national levels. As a mobility bombardier atechnology leader, Bombardier Transportation (Bombardier) is proud to be playing a significant role in this change.

Bombardier’s business activities in this part of the world began in Egypt in the late 1970s. This continued until the end of the 1990s, with the supply of almost 300 diesel locomotives to the Egyptian National Railways. In more recent years, the company has delivered a sizable share of the Middle East’s mobility market.

“Responding to a clear vision to become a strategic local partner in this region’s rail industry, Bombardier has established three wholly-owned subsidiaries in the Middle East since 2012, first, in Riyadh in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, then Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, and most recently in Cairo in Egypt,” explains Pierre Cicion, Region Leader Middle East at Bombardier Transportation “Bombardier currently employs around 140 people across the region, and this will grow significantly in 2020 as a new project team is established to deliver two new monorail lines for Cairo and new maintenance projects ramp up.”

As Pierre goes on to state, there are a number of reasons behind the company’s success in the region. “First, the company took a good look at the market and reviewed its product portfolio, leading to investment in a programme of R&D and innovation to bring its transit system technologies to the highest state-of-the-art standard. Many of Bombardier’s projects in the Middle East are for the INNOVIA family and this product platform has benefited from substantial investments with the needs of the region in mind.

“A second reason is because the Middle East has a strong appetite for new railway links supplied as a complete turnkey system, so partnering with an experienced ‘one-stop-shop’ supplier such as Bombardier is the most effective approach to receive optimal rail services that address passenger capacity needs. Delivering the rail system is, however, just one stage of the process. As a global leader in system integration, design-build-operate-maintain (DBOM), and concession contracting, Bombardier considers and plans the whole life of its products and systems. This allows the system design to be optimised and adds value for the client during the project execution stage; for example, by reducing energy consumption or using less space for maintenance facilities and depot buildings – savings that translate into lower capital and operational costs for customers.”

Notable successes
With a number of impressive rail projects already in the Middle East, Bombardier has a proven record of improving public transport for citizens, as well as creating high-value and permanent employment opportunities within the region. One country where it has had notable success is Saudi Arabia. Bombardier won its first order for the country’s capital Riyadh in 2010 for an INNOVIA monorail system for the newly emerging King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD). More recently, however, it has been a focal point in the delivery of the Riyadh Metro.

“The Riyadh Metro is one of the most impressive rail infrastructure projects in delivery in the world today,” Pierre states. “Six fully automated metro lines with a combined length of 176 kilometres, serving 85 stations, are close to completion and the first trains are planned to run this year. As a member of the ArRiyadh New Mobility (ANM) consortium, Bombardier is delivering metro technology for the new Line 3 (orange) including 47 two-car driverless INNOVIA metro 300 trains, system interface management, project management and design. Bombardier has also been selected to deliver fleet maintenance services for the 47 INNOVIA metro trainsets during the new railway’s first years of commercial service.”

To create the world class metro for Riyadh, the INNOVIA Metro 300 vehicles are equipped with proven technologies. The MITRAC rotary motor propulsion delivers short travel times, high acceleration performance and train braking energy recovery, while the FLEXX Eco bogies are bombardier blightweight and robust for reduced energy consumption and low lifecycle costs. The carbodies are constructed from recyclable aluminium with a steel under-frame and composite end cap.

Attractive passenger friendly interiors are fitted with three classes of accommodation: First class cars for families and singles, family-only cars and singles-only cars. Three bi-parting doors on each side of each car and spacious entrance areas will permit fast and safe boarding, while the walk-through gangways and wide aisles will help passenger flow and enhance safety. Comfortable seating is plentiful in all classes and passengers with restricted mobility have their own designated spaces. The large front windshield and side windows create a bright and comfortable aesthetic and provide a scenic view for passengers. Meanwhile, passenger information systems and advanced security features, such as on-board cameras and two-way communication systems, are designed to further enhance the interior environment for passengers.

Significant projects
Also in Saudi Arabia, one will find the Haramain High Speed Railway – otherwise known as the Mecca-Medina High Speed Railway – which is a 450 kilometre, dual track line connecting the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah via Jeddah, and the King Abdulaziz International Airport. The powerheads of the 35 high-speed trains from Talgo SA are equipped with Bombardier’s MITRAC 3000 propulsion equipment and FLEXX speed bogies for commercial speeds up to 300 kilometres per hour. The contract also includes 12 years of maintenance for these components which is being carried out by Bombardier’s team of maintenance experts at the depots in Makkah and Madinah at either end of the route.

Improved travel experience
A couple of the other significant contracts to have been awarded to Bombardier in the region include examples that can be found in the United Arab Emirates and in Cairo, Egypt. In the case of the former, the company has successfully delivered to Dubai International Airport a flagship turnkey 1.3-kilometre elevated transit system, complete with two stations and 18 vehicles, to connect the existing Terminal 1 to the new Concourse 4. “The INNOVIA APM 300 automated people mover system opened in 2016, and it is equipped with the Bombardier’s CITYFLO 650 communications-based train control (CBTC) technology for driverless operation; a stand-out feature which improves the travel experience for passengers and enables the airport to easily accommodate the high passenger volumes that this essential airport rail link demands,” Pierre adds. “In addition to this, Bombardier has provided Operations and Maintenance (O&M) services for the Dubai Airport transit system since it opened. Here, a local O&M team is delivering world class performance, with the system’s availability averaging an impressive 99.75 per cent in its first three years of operation.”

In Egypt, in August 2019, Bombardier and construction companies Orascom Construction and Arab Contractors, were awarded the Engineering, bombardier cProcurement and Construction (EPC) contract for two monorail lines in the mega-city of Cairo by
the Egyptian Government. “Bombardier and its local partners offered the best technical solution and the most competitive bid,” Pierre proudly declares. “As part of this contract, a 42-kilometre monorail line will be constructed to connect the 6th of October City and Giza, and a 54 kilometre monorail line will connect the New Administrative City and East Cairo. On completion of the construction phase, the consortium will be responsible for the O&M of both lines for 30 years.

“Bombardier will design, supply and install the electrical and mechanical (E&M) equipment for the two lines, including 70 four-car INNOVIA monorail 300 trains (280 cars) and the CITYFLO 650 signalling and automatic train control technology for driverless operation. Orascom Construction and Arab Contractors have formed a Joint Venture (JV) to deliver the civil works and construction for the monorail system infrastructure, including the 33 stations, 96 kilometres of guideway and the maintenance depot for the two lines.”

Growth trajectory
Turning to the company’s priorities for the region in 2020, these include ensuring a smooth start for the Cairo monorail project team, as well as continuing with project deliveries and operation and maintenance support. “Developing new business in the Middle East also remains important,” Pierre adds. “Rolling stock suppliers across the industry are, for instance, eyeing the upcoming opportunities, including locomotives for Egypt, the light metro project coming soon in Bahrain and upcoming rolling stock projects in Turkey. Bombardier is, of course, very keen to participate in these types of projects.”

Over the next five years, Bombardier wants to continue its steady growth trajectory in this dynamic region. “Global attention on climate change is making cities rethink mobility and public transport plays 49a crucial role in fighting local air pollution and climate change. National governments everywhere are reviewing their action plans and many, like those in Saudi Arabia, Dubai and Cairo, are encouraging a modal shift to public transport and sustainable urban mobility modes, such as metro, monorail and light rail systems,” Pierre reveals. “The new urgency to combat climate change is expected to increase the wave of investment in public transport in the effort to drastically reduce CO2 emissions globally and cut local air pollution to keep cities breathable.

“With a healthy installed base of rail systems now in the region, Bombardier is committed to supporting its customers to optimise the overall ‘total cost of ownership’ of their assets. Long-term service agreements with customers always ensures they get the best performance from their fleets, and with more than 60 turnkey transit systems delivered in 16 countries around the world, Bombardier-built rail technology is proven and ready to manage passenger flows in cities and airports, safely and sustainably.”

Bombardier Transportation
Services: A global leader in the transportation industry

Supporting African trade

Breadbox offers a variety of liner, parcel and chartering services, and provides creative and alternative shipping options to its clients

A couple of years of operating a reefer service to West Africa was more than enough for Breadbox Shipping Lines (Breadbox) to come to the conclusion that the African continent contained so many shipping opportunities that it was worthwhile for the company to grow into a pure Africa breadbox aspecialist. Following its establishment in 2001, Netherlands-based Breadbox gradually built a network of agents and representatives, developed from reefer into MPP service, and launched an additional coastal service.

“We neither felt the need nor had the time to look at other regions,” Founder and Managing Director, Joris Bakker, begins. “We simply focused on what we were doing at the time in West Africa and a bit later, we decided to try and maximise on our established network and operations. Our idea was to develop more activities and diversify in Africa, instead of branching out to other geographical areas.”

It is a testament to the courage of Breadbox that the company has demonstrated such a long-standing dedication to servicing the West Africa trade lanes. As Joris himself admits, shipping to the region is not in the least straightforward and poses many challenges. “Slow operations in ports, unpredictable congestions, and the heightened piracy risk in Nigeria are some of the main obstacles at the moment. For example, our ships trading to Nigeria are escorted by patrol boats to and from the country’s ports. This is a very costly security measure that we are taking, but it is absolutely essential, because our top priority is always the safety of the crew, the ship, and the cargo.”

Besides piracy, Joris identifies the new fuel regulations as an active factor in play that has already had an impact on the way Breadbox operates. “As low-sulphur fuels are not readily available in the African ports, we had to change our entire coastal fleet over from IFO 180 to MGO, which, of course, had a major effect on our bottom line,” he discusses.

There are usually between ten and 15 ships operated by Breadbox at any point in time, with the exact number depending on the season and on economic circumstances. “The reefer service, for instance, is seasonal, hence the boosting of the fleet during the onion export season,” Joris details. “Of all the vessels that we operate, around five or six are permanently trading on the West African coast as part of our Inter Africa service. It is currently our most popular service, not least because we can sometimes offer clients multiple shipping options to choose from.”

Owing to the new IMO regulations that aim to reduce sulphur oxides and the requirement for all vessels to have a ballast water treatment system (BWTS) installed, Breadbox has now started looking at further fleet renewal options, with a view to replace its older, smaller multipurpose (MPP) vessels on the Inter Africa service with more eco-friendly ones. “Shipping is definitely becoming greener and so is Breadbox,” Joris maintains. “We are investigating a changeover from present fossil fuels to biofuels through the so-called ‘mass balance’ concept.”breadbox b

He explains: “As biofuels are not available in West Africa, you can instead supply biofuel to another vessel that is trading within an area where such fuels are available. The difference in price is then invoiced to Breadbox and we can claim the emission reduction and offer low-carbon shipping options to our clients. At the end of the day, it does not matter whether the biofuel is supplied to ship A in Europe or ship B in Africa and as such, it is an interesting concept and development we are closely looking into.”

Alongside the Inter Africa service, Breadbox specialises in MPP services connecting Europe and West Africa, South Africa and West Africa, and, since the second half of 2019, Turkey and West Africa. “The new service started with handysize tonnage, with the base trade being steels from the Turkish steel mills, although we also ship cement and pipes on these sailings. It is certainly an exciting venture for us, which, we hope, will grow into a mature and stable service in 2020,” Joris comments.

“We also expect to grow the Europe – West Africa service in the new year. In 2019, we performed a total of 34 sailings and we believe we can take this figure to 35-40 in 2020,” he adds, before concluding. “Together with developing these routes, we will focus on the investments previously discussed. We will be gradually renewing our fleet to support our various services and continue moving towards the realisation of our long-term objectives.”

Breadbox Shipping Lines
Services: A dynamic shipping company

In safe hands

The last two years have seen Gondrand Traffic upscale significantly. It was in 2018 that the end-to-end supply chain solutions provider was acquired by the Nordic Transport Group (NTG). Following the move, the almost-century old company benefitted from NTG’s expertise specifically in the road, air, and ocean forwarding areas.

“Road and Air & Ocean had been two of our three main business units since 2010, before they became NTG-forwarding entities in January 2019,” clarifies Roger van der Groen, Managing Director of Gondrand Traffic. “Due to the historic significance of the third division, which is Logistics and covers warehousing and distribution, it was decided that it should continue to serve under the Gondrand Traffic name, whilst still being a member of GT 178 cNTG.”

The company’s corporate values – safety, customer focus, respect, and responsibility – are viewed by Roger as Gondrand Traffic’s biggest strengths. In his opinion, listening to customers is key not only to providing a sustainable service, but also to making a tangible difference when they are in need. It goes without saying that achieving consistency in service quality is another priority for the business.

Roger comments: “Only by providing a continually high-level service and expertise, can we maintain a good relationship with our customers, some of which have been with us for more than 25 years. However, as we specialise in dealing with chemicals and hazardous goods, together with a high standard of quality, we have to be able to provide flexibility in what we do.

“Actually, it is often the case that customers have non-hazardous goods next to the hazardous ones in their range, but our complete solution allows us to provide storage of both types,” he continues. “We have large-scale temperature-controlled storage compartments and a temperature-controlled staging area, while all other compartments also offer the option of floor heating.”

Due to its unique warehouse design and strict procedures, which enable it to not just segregate hazardous goods, but also to provide dedicated/single-compartment storage solutions, Gondrand Traffic has become a partner of choice for the food industry, too. As reported by Roger, the company is the European Distribution Centre (EDC) for a global beverage company, with part of the service including the provision of a frozen storage solution in combination with a controlled thawing process. Optional services, such as dry-ice and temperature monitored shipments (also online) are also in place.

It is not a surprise that Gondrand Traffic has been chosen as a central storage partner by the client in question. The bonded warehouse’s strategic location in the middle of the ports of Antwerp and Rotterdam makes it a sought-after logistics provider. Roger adds: “It is one of our biggest advantages that we have a direct connection to the European hinterland via a number of different transport options. I believe that such a proposition is attractive particularly to UK companies that may be considering to move their European central stock to the mainland.”

For 23 years, Gondrand Traffic had been using a site in Moerdijk (in the south of the Netherlands) for the storage of packaged chemicals. As regulations were getting tighter, however, the company decided to build a completely new site, designed to comply with all the relevant industry and government directives. The 17,500-square metre warehouse opened in Q3 2018 and was built entirely in concrete, due to the material’s inherent fire resistance.

“It has seven storage and three staging compartments. One of each is equipped with an ESFR sprinkler system, while all others feature CO2 GT 178 bdistinguishing systems,” Roger points out. “Furthermore, each compartment is equipped with LEL detection, air humidity measuring, and automatic high-capacity ventilation systems. Together with this, one of the storage compartments was split into four temperature-controlled units (5-12 degrees Celsius) and one central temperature-controlled staging area in front. All other compartments have floor heating (from frost-free five-plus degrees Celsius to up to 25 degrees ambient storage temperatures).

“Less than two years after we completed the warehouse, we acquired another plot of land adjacent to it with a view to extend the facility as soon as possible. Spanning 22,000 square metres, the plot is even larger than the unit itself,” Roger announces. “By having it at our disposal, we are able to start building a dedicated design for a new larger customer or provide extra space to our existing clients to accommodate their future growth.”

Alongside the expansion of its warehouse, Gondrand Traffic will be looking to obtain GDP and ISO 22000 certifications and renewing its SQAS registration throughout 2020, having already been certified to the ISO 9001 and 14001 standards, and customs AEO registration. Security wise, the building is TAPA 2 prepared. In addition, the company is working tirelessly to enable new pharmaceutical, food, and chemical solutions. “A focus area for us will be to develop a conceptual and procedural safe solution for the storage of li-ion batteries,” Roger reveals. “This is an industry-wide challenge, but we are currently in talks with the governmental institutions that are responsible for the creation of the new 2020 storage legislation.

“As regards our long-term ambitions, we are pleased to see a very clear trend that customers are increasingly asking for a full supply chain solution. They insist on focusing on their internal processes and, therefore, prefer not to split their supply chain among multiple players, which they have to manage themselves,” Roger concludes. “Such a demand plays to our strengths and we are confident that we are in a good position to continue to grow. Once the new part of the warehouse is operational, we will have a greater capacity to serve our clients. Meanwhile, we will be working on creating additional infra solutions to expand our customer base and service portfolio.”

Gondrand Traffic
End-to-end supply chain solutions provider
Specialises in chemical warehousing, distribution, and forwarding
Recently opened a new warehouse and is shortly building an extension to it

Here to help

With a history dating back to the mid-1800s, leading logistics and maritime service provider Cory Brothers has experienced significant developments and evolutions over the past 178 years. Well-planned moves into new sectors and clever strategic acquisitions resulted in continuous solid growth, and the company today (now part of Braemar Shipping Services PLC) offers services for ship-owners, charterers and traders around the world.

Its business is divided into three divisions – Agency, Logistics and Liner Agency – but what unites all of Cory Brothers’ work is the pride it takes in ensuring that its clients’ cargoes are looked after – wherever and whenever they ship. This exemplary level of service is delivered thanks to a team of long-standing, loyal staff, and a flat management structure, which enables quick reactions and an adaptability that is not always found in larger, more unwieldy organisations.

“This flat structure, where the key stakeholders get involved at every level of the business, sets us apart,” confirmed Mike Bowden, Group Marketing & Procurement Manager at Cory Brothers. “Everyone here is very hands-on – so Mark Harding, the Development Director, might be answering phone calls, doing customer visits, or giving talk to a customer’s board of directors, and Peter Wilson, the Managing Director is involved in every level too, and it is this level of interaction with customers, and the ability to handle problems quickly at senior level that really makes a difference.”

Mike referred to Mark Harding, who has over 22 years experience at Cory Brothers, and while this sort of career longevity at one firm is unusual within the industry, it’s actually pretty common at Cory, where they can find staff with well over a decade of service, all the way up to 36 years. Mark himself gave a perspective on why staff remain at the business. “I think our people being passionate about the company and our rich history has a huge bearing on it. Furthermore, we have stability with our owners, Braemar, and we have a safe and secure business model - we wouldn’t have been around for as long as we have if we weren’t doing something right!

“Our customers are also reassured by the fact that our team is consistent, as they recognise that it reflects not just our history, but also illustrates that we offer a bit more than the competition; we can be trusted and relied upon.”

“The team even stay in touch after they leave, with former employees including directors, operators and vessel workers, getting together socially to ‘chew the fat’ about the old days,” added Mike. “That is a rare thing, but they get in touch via social media to join in, and we love the fact that Cory Brothers has created these great, positive memories for our people.”

This vast resource of staff knowledge has also proven invaluable as the company has evolved and adapted to realign certain areas of the business over the years. “It has made it a lot easier to transition into different niches and verticals, where maybe other companies would be challenged,” Mike confirmed. “We are always looking for those niche opportunities, a little bit outside the norm, where people have problems in different sectors and where our experience really comes into its own.”

It is clear that finding ways to set itself apart from the competition is very important to Cory Brothers, and while tradition and history are significant, that is not to say it doesn't embrace modernism – in fact it has ambitious plans in motion for a state-of-the-art digital ecommerce solution, that is tailor-made for the specific requirements of its customers.

“This project is the biggest item on our agenda at the moment, and in fact we are digitising our entire business,” Mike revealed. “This solution is going to enable our customers live track their containers wherever they are around the globe at any time. This is so important to anyone in the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector who needs to know when their stock is arriving, or critically, where it could potentially be delayed. It is going to save them time, and also, as it is going to save us money as well, ultimately we pass those savings to customers too.”

Another development at Cory Brothers that is designed to assist clients with reliable distribution is the creation of its own haulage provision. “It is so CB 178 bvital to our customers that their deliveries are made on time, that their consignments are looked after, and they can trust they are being managed properly, that we established our own UK haulage suppliers, specifically to offer a more efficient, more hands-on and more personal service,” asserted Mike.

The approach and technology behind these new additions is firmly 21st century, and indeed any customers wanting to use What’s App or social media will find Cory Brothers only too willing to interact on modern platforms. Mike also made another important point: “We strongly feel that our customers and suppliers should be able to pick up the phone, get through to their own account manager, and find the answers they need.”

“Many modern companies are faceless, with no voice – it’s very hard to speak to an actual person. So while we are massively embracing the future, we will not turn our back on the past – we can offer a digital bespoke solution, but we are also proud to be old school in some ways. We appreciate the need for multiple channels of communication, and we want all our customers to be able to get in touch in whatever manner best suits them. We want to appeal to the biggest customer base possible, and that requires answering different needs in different ways,” Mark added.

This approach to customer service is also reflected in Cory Brothers’ willingness to share its wisdom and advice on current topics that are likely to affect those relying on a smooth and reliable supply chain.

With its 178-year history in the market, there are few situations that Cory Brothers’ divisions haven’t dealt with, and its heritage and experience are incredibly useful resources to draw upon when facing new challenges, such as Brexit, or even the recent coronavirus outbreak.

“We are now running a programme for customers and suppliers to make sure they are as prepared as they can be, and rather than wait to be approached, we’re putting ourselves out there, and saying ‘this is what is going to happen, and we are ready for it – but this is what you need to do be ready as well. We can help with a health check of your supply chain, to ensure you know where you stand’,” said Mike.

The intelligence shared by Cory Brothers is created in-house by its own Brexit team, which assembles every two weeks to collate and share information, and liaises with Government and Chamber bodies to obtain different opinions and information. “We are equally investing in advice from professionals as well,” Mark emphasised, “as they have a far greater angle on Brexit and they come in and empower us with more specific, expert knowledge. So we’re really undertaking a lot of investment - not just in terms of time and resource, but also in commissioning really qualified experts to assist us.”

By combining its own expertise and willingness to help clients, with a serious source of relevant, reliable information, Mark and Mike are aiming to create a company that customers and suppliers are willing to reach out to for help. “We don’t want them to be shy in coming forward and engaging with us – we have the expertise and ideas and we’ve made ourselves ready to assist. We know from the market that there are companies sitting on the fence, and we would love them to come to us and ask for our input,” said Mike.

The trustworthy reputation that Cory Brothers has established in the market is also reassuring for clients as they wade through the amount of misinformation that they're regularly bombarded with – coronavirus being the perfect example.

“It is key for us stay in touch with the factual information, to work out what is conjecture and what is real. Then we have to convey that to as many relevant stakeholders both inside and outside the business as possible. We do send out news bulletins on this, which explain what the situation is, how it might affect a supply chain, and some of the solutions that we have put in place, and some suggested calls to action for the readers,” said Mike.

“A very quick example is that import ocean freight is going to be very highly impacted by vessel cancellations due to coronavirus, and that will have a knock on affect on the UK haulage industry, and is already starting to affect some of the associated industries in the UK. We make sure that we speak to our suppliers and customers, tell them what we believe will happen, identify how to get around it, suggest the best approach for their supply chain, and make sure that we support them through the good times and the bad like they do us.”

“It’s about empowering our customers,” emphasised Mark. “I was asked this week what effect coronavirus was going to have on a customer’s business – and I said ‘first I will send you an article about the situation in Chinese ports, but more importantly, don’t panic. We have several partners that we can reach out to, and we can find a solution’. The general public might go into a free-fall and clear all the shelves of hand sanitiser, but that’s not the way that professionals do it in the industry, we look at providing solutions, and they are out there.”

Having such a resource of experienced contacts available with well-researched information and a longstanding trading history behind them should be of enormous reassurance to the customers and suppliers of Cory Brothers. The company has positioned itself as a vital provider of not just exemplary services, but essential help and advice, delivered in the format best suited to each client. As the world continues to deal with new challenges, this sort of approach will ensure that Cory Brothers endures – maintaining its steady course on a path of growth.

Cory Brothers
Prides itself on a long trading history
Embraces both modern and traditional approaches
New digitalised system set to transform operations

Understand and deliver

One of the UK’s largest independently owned logistics companies, Howard Tenens provides flexible, tailor-made supply chain solutions across a diverse range of sectors

For Howard Tenens, everything starts with integrity and transparency. According to the company’s CEO, Jamie Hartles, it is this honest, howard auncomplicated approach to business that differentiates the firm from its competition.

“From an ethos perspective, we always do what we say we will,” he states. “When we make a commitment, we fulfil it and we invest time, effort, and capital in our relationships to make sure they are long-term. We don’t provide prices to undercut the market simply to secure new business and we always seek partnership relationships over transactional ones. As a company, we are very selective in the business we undertake and will always ensure there is mutual value in everything we do, whether that be with employees, suppliers or customers.”

With roots dating back to 1953, Howard Tenens is a family company with various business interests but is primarily focused on commercial property ownership and third-party logistics services. In 1983, perhaps the biggest year in the company’s history, Howard Tenens’ Chairman and majority shareholder Peter Morris completed one of the UK’s first management buyouts, purchasing the firm and making it a privately-owned business. Still a private company today, Peter’s sons, Ben and Dan, are now actively involved with Howard Tenens, providing added continuity to the operation and further solidifying its credentials as a family organization.

“Even today, in 2020, we still have some of the original customers that Peter brought with him in 1983,” Jamie reveals. “Clients stay with Howard Tenens because of our partnership approach to business and commitment to mutual value. As a privately-owned firm, we are not under the same pressure to grow as a listed company. This means we can expand organically and sustainably in collaboration with our customers and not sacrifice service or safety by overreaching.”

Favoring a bricks and mortar approach to business, Howard Tenens has always strived to own the properties from which it runs its logistics operation. The freehold commercial property portfolio has now grown to over four million square feet of warehouse space across the UK, and not only gives the company great flexibility when serving customers, but also represents a robust financial foundation, enabling the firm to invest in future growth. The logistics side of the business occupies around one third of the company’s owned warehouse space, with the remaining two thirds being rented to external clients as storage and commercial parking.

Serving customers across a broad spectrum of industries, including fast moving consumer goods, automotive parts, linens and medical scrubs, white goods, and construction and industrial products, Howard Tenens is a company unafraid to prove its worth to new clients. “Typically, customers start by giving us a smaller, more challenging aspect of their supply chain, but soon enough they realize we deliver where others fail. That’s when customers entrust us with additional work,” Jamie explains. “Our team try really hard to understand a customer’s requirements and howard bensure the solutions being implemented are as safe and efficient as possible. Our promise to provide exceptional service means we are not just storing a product and distributing it but undertaking value-added services to increase profit for the customer in question.”

Challenging conventions
Though the majority of its business comes from the food and drink sector, Howard Tenens is guided by customer demand and has recently experienced a significant increase in e-commerce activity. The agile nature of the firm means it remains open to change and is always prepared to adapt.

“At the moment, we have no plans to expand into other sectors, but it really depends on the client and requirement,” Jamie says. “If a customer asks for support in a new sector, we will always provide a solution for them.

“We are fortunate to work with numerous household names and blue-chip brands who come to us seeking value for money and great service. Our customers include companies like Honda, with whom we have established a strong relationship, built on trust. We serve every Honda dealership in the UK, every night, and the company provides us with keys and codes to its locations, knowing it can rely on us to put stock away so that parts are available to workshops in the morning.

“We also service Lavazza Professional on a dedicated, high quality coffee network,” he adds. “We have large alcohol duty bonded sites in the south east and south west providing flexible storage solutions to cater for the large seasonal peaks of the beer industry. Across the board, we are increasingly encountering e-commerce online retailers who need solutions requiring heavy capital investment in conveyor systems, which we are happy to support.”

At the heart of Howard Tenens’ offering is the company’s ability to work in partnership with a client to deliver customizable solutions that challenge convention, while proving good value for money. Whether it’s a first-time outsource or a transfer from a third-party provider, the firm boasts a proud track record of creating open dialogue in its collaboration with clients, committing itself to learn as much as possible about its customers. Jamie suggests that the company’s work with Mole Valley Farmers is a particularly good example of the way in which Howards Tenens operates.

Bespoke scheme
“It was clear from the first meeting that Mole Valley Farmers was going to be an excellent cultural fit for us. The company is committed to ensuring greater choice and protecting farming members from the impact of fewer suppliers and the threat of higher costs,” he asserts. “They also aim to offer superior levels of customer service and the widest range of keenly priced, quality products.

“Mole Valley has grown significantly over the last few years and wanted a consolidated national distribution center, with a transport solution that howard censured high-quality service levels. We have worked closely with the company since then and have now implemented a bespoke logistics scheme, servicing their store estate across the UK and making sure on-shelf availability remains high.”

As we move towards the halfway point of 2020, Coronavirus continues to present challenges for businesses across the world. Due to the diversity of its customer base, and the vital nature of its work, Howard Tenens has remained operational throughout the pandemic, employing a number of initiatives to help mitigate the risks to its workforce.

“First and foremost, our focus has been on our people and keeping our amazing employees safe,” Jamie declares. “This has meant investment in personal protective equipment and significantly enhanced cleaning and hygiene standards. We are committed to ensuring that the people who work at Howard Tenens are kept in the loop, especially those working from home, and that the health of all our employees is protected as much as possible whilst they fulfil their important role as key workers.”

Environmental credentials
Though the company’s two-person vending machine delivery and installation service has been forced to shut down - Howard Tenens has offered an enhanced financial package to furloughed employees on the Government Job Retention Scheme - some areas of the business are not only operating, but thriving.

“Online retail is very busy,” Jamie reports. “We have supported our customers by either increasing resources to cope with such a large and sustained uplift in volume, or by helping them pivot their offering from a storefront solution to one based in e-commerce.

“There has also been an increase in demand for warehouse space, the finding of which is one of our key specialisms. Our Property Division has exceptional contacts in the marketplace, which means we have access to flexible areas that may already be let to other tenants, as well as vacant spaces on our own estate.

“It’s a two-sided process though, and huge thanks must go to all of our clients who have helped us through this unprecedented time. Where we have had to review a commercial arrangement, we have received support from our customers, large and small, and will continue to work in partnership with them to evolve the solutions we provide until we arrive at a new normal.”

What exactly the new normal will be, nobody yet knows, but Howard Tenens has already got its eyes on the future. The company recently signed a six-year lease for Neptune Works, a 145,000 ft² warehouse in Newport, taking its overall number of commercial sites to 18. The firm has also received planning permission for the development of further locations, totaling approximately 600,000ft².

“Where we own the land and the site, we typically commission the facilities ourselves,” Jamie remarks. “The size and layout of the warehouse will vary, but typically, we make them as versatile as we can, with plenty of access and exit points and as much height as feasible, given the build parameters.

“All our new buildings are constructed to an extremely high standard, ensuring 35maximum natural light, and where possible, environmental features such as ground source heat pumps and photovoltaic or motion-activated low energy LED lights. Having strong environmental credentials is important to us and so we work hard to ensure our buildings take that into consideration.”

Recognized on numerous occasions for its environmental work - including Gold Status in the company’s EcoVadis CSR Supplier Evaluation - Howard Tenens remains a leader in sustainable logistics. An early adopter of dual-fuel vehicles, the firm operates seven sites powered by solar energy, saving around 200 tons of CO2 every year. Over the next five years, Jamie expects to see more investment in sustainability initiatives, eco-friendly technology, and automation as Howard Tenens pushes towards a target of £125,000,000 turnover. Having reported years of back-to-back growth – including a 20 per cent increase in turnover in 2018 – Jamie is confident that the current pandemic will not prevent the company from reaching its goal.

“Competition in the logistics market is fierce and Howard Tenens continues to be successful by hiring and retaining the best staff, who understand the firm’s objectives and work together for the betterment of each other and our customer base,” he proclaims. “The impact of COVID-19 will be far reaching and will undoubtedly change our habits and requirements for good, but Howard Tenens has weathered numerous economic storms before and is exceptionally well placed to come through this one where some of our competition might struggle. We will continue to invest in the business and our customers throughout this process and will emerge even stronger as a result.”

Howard Tenens Logistics Ltd
Services: A proactive logistics company, providing innovative solutions

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Transportation and Logistics International

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