A ‘Highly Palletable’ Service

A seemingly recession-proof Black Country business that has trebled in size in less than a decade and is set to double its workforce over the next five years has broken yet another record – it has just increased its daily business by more than 1000 per cent.

Last week Pallet-Track, the Wolverhampton-based national pallet network experienced its best ever performance smashing through the 9,000 pallet milestone for the first time ever in one night.  When the business launched in 2004, it was moving just 800 pallets an evening – representing a 1,025 per cent increase in just eight years.

Founder and CEO of Pallet-Track Nigel Parkes, said: “This truly was a land-mark achievement for the company and further underlines our ambitions to become the UK’s leading palletised freight network. We are still only operating at about 80% so there is still capacity to increase volumes further. This was the busiest night on record yet the operation still went without a hitch, which is testament to the highly efficient administrative systems and management processes we have put in place.”

“More importantly, this is a sign of the times – more businesses are looking to move their goods around through pallet networks because of the reduced cost and greater efficiencies offered, including the fact that it reduces a business’s carbon footprint by reduced ‘empty running’ on the UK’s motorways,” added Parkes.

Based in Millfields Road, Wolverhampton the business – which forms the central hub for a national network of regional hauliers – plans to take on hundreds of staff, many of whom are likely to be at its Titan Business Park headquarters which also houses its giant 267,000 sq ft distribution centre.

Parkes is also looking to expand the model into Europe: “I would say Europe is several years behind us here in the UK, which is why I am keeping a watching brief and only launching there when I know there is a sustainable model Pallet-Track can work with. We bucked the trend in the UK during the recession and from 2008 to 2009 when we grew by 14 per cent. I know we could do the same in Europe once the conditions are right for entry into that market,” he said.

Pallet-Track works with a broad range of manufacturers, producers, retailers, suppliers and stockists supplying many household name consumer, business and industrial brands and transports anything from building and construction materials, through to sporting goods, clothing and accessories.
Irrespective of this week’s freeze on fuel duty announced, the national hub and spoke operation consistently reduces haulier’s costs and their impact upon the environment by cutting delivery distances and making sure that no trucks run empty on any leg of their journeys.

The network currently boasts 75 depots across the country and employs 1,800 staff directly involved in Pallet-Track freight operations with a combined turnover in excess of £50 million.

This week one of Pallet-Track’s network partners CFT Services Ltd, which has existing depots in Wednesbury and Heywood, opened its brand new depot and storage facility on Potters Lane, Wednesbury, creating further new job opportunities and better flexibility for the business.

It opened in Wednesbury in 2007 with one employee and 5000 square feet of storage, but today the company employs 33 people and has in excess of 50,000 square feet of warehouse space. Further jobs are expected as the new site will allow the company to expand its pallet distribution and to build upon its position as the number one pallet input company for Pallet-Track, the nationwide network.
“We are very focussed on customer service, just being competitive isn’t enough in 2012’ said sales director John Wild.

“As a company we have embraced the Black Country’s work ethic and people skills; all our depot staff are local people who have bought into our company ethos to care for the customer. As we constantly promote from within we like to think we can provide a workplace where employees can learn new skills and see a career progression. I am sure that our customers appreciate a service-driven approach as well as a friendly voice on the ‘phone.’

“We have also managed to build key partnerships with like-minded companies in the south of England and Scotland which, alongside the Pallet-Track network, has given us improved service levels to the benefit of our customers.’

Wild added:  “The new depot on Potters Lane will allow us the extra space we need to build on the success of our pallet distribution service. It will also provide more career opportunities for local people keen to join the logistics industry. We are also rightly proud of our Wednesbury depot and our staff; here’s to another exciting five years!’

Pallet-Track’s Wolverhampton hub is at 80 per cent capacity and Pallet-Track is already looking at options for the future.

“Whatever happens we will retain a presence in the Black Country,” pledged Parkes.
Pallet-Track originally operated from a 73,000  sq ft premises in Woden Road West in Wednesbury before moving to its current home.

Member companies bring their goods into the massive central warehouse and other members then take them to other parts of the UK.

The full Express & Star Feature can be read here.