Boss of one of the region’s biggest logistics firms on his Brexit concerns
PUBLISHED: 09:25 30 November 2018 | UPDATED: 09:25 30 November 2018
Uncertainty about the potential impact of the country’s withdrawal from the EU has failed to blunt the progress of the UK’s leading independent logistics firms, which is based in North Essex, but it’s chief is ‘under no illusions’ about the ‘significant challenges’ the industry faces.
The turnover of the Witham-based business Simarco Worldwide rose by 20% last financial year, taking its annual sales above £60 million for the first time since it was founded in 1997.
Co-founder and chief executive Simon Reed has disclosed that the company’s performance over the last 12 months had been fuelled by a string of new clients and successfully integrating two of the country’s other specialist operators, Formula Goss International (FGI) and Sutch and Searle, following twin seven-figure acquisitions.
Mr Reed added that Simarco had also seen a “considerable” expansion in its road, sea and air services both in the UK and abroad as well as the size of its workforce.
But he warns that his company is “under no illusions” about the challenges which leaving the EU will pose to Simarco and its industry peers.
“Even without the prospect of Brexit – whatever shape that might take – we are like every other logistics firm in that we face significant challenges due to changes in the nature of the people who work in our industry,” Mr Reed explained.
“The average age of drivers and support staff, for example, continues to increase. We have come up with initiatives to make a career in logistics even more appealing as well as retaining and developing the careers of those who we have already recruited.
“Our apprentice scheme has evolved over the last five years to build our profile with educational establishments in Essex and beyond and led to our taking on a number of young people.
“We believe that with all this effort, we’re on the right track.”
Mr Reed’s comments follow Simarco’s becoming one of only four logistics companies to take their place among the ranks of the 100 largest companies in Essex, according to the Essex Limited study that was released earlier this month.
The company now employs 360 people across eight sites in the UK and is pressing ahead with plans to develop a “rewarded and highly capable” workforce to provide for its future.
Mr Reed says that the swift integratration of FGI and Sutch and Searle – which Simarco acquired a year ago - has provided a fillip to its air freight volumes, in particular, which have risen by 6% in the 12 months since. He explained that the air freight performance had been a contributing factor in Simarco’s turnover increasing. Sales for the last year were more than double those in 2014.
“Our approach has also persuaded a number of major brands in a variety of sectors, including consumer electronics, beauty, luxury goods and sports and leisure, to ask us to represent them,” he added. “That expansion has required us not only to step up our recruitment but to invest in creating a skilled, motivated and diverse workforce able to continue the progress that we’re making well.”