An award-winning approach
On June 12th, 2018, at London’s Guildhall, the great and the good of the UK food and drink industry gathered together for the annual The Grocer Gold Awards. It was here that this ensemble of the leading players in the sector saw UK food supply chain experts Fowler Welch take home the prestigious title of ‘Logistics Supplier of the Year’, with its judges paying the company particular praise for its use of “innovative thinking” and its ability to deliver “a genuine win-win for all involved”.
Fowler Welch’s win at The Grocer Gold Awards 2018 was just one of a number of accolades it picked up over the last 12 months, which CEO Nick Hay proudly proclaims to have been “an incredibly successful period of time for us”. Other trophies that can now be found in the company’s possession include the Temperature Controlled Storage and Distribution (TCS&D) Awards prize for ‘Partnership of the Year’, which celebrated its innovative, ten year Strategic Partnership with Dairy Crest. Meanwhile, Fowler Welch was delighted to pick up the award for ‘Environmentally Efficient Logistics’ at the Footprint Awards, and was among the contenders for the much coveted ‘Apprenticeship of the Year’ and ‘Team of the Year’ categories at the Motor Transport Awards 2019.
“As you can imagine, it is always incredibly gratifying to be recognised for the things we are doing as a business, particularly when those things are based around our core values – namely maximising efficiency, being socially responsible, being an employer of choice and delighting our customers,” Nick enthuses.
Fowler Welch’s continued recognition from countless industry bodies is all the more impressive given that it comes at a time of intense change and complexity for the food logistics market. “The pressure on everyone today, within food retail in particular, is relentless,” Nick states. “What remains is an environment where everybody is fighting to maintain market share in the face of increased competition from the likes of Aldi and Lidl, companies remain incredibly aggressive when it comes to costs, the shortage of skilled labour remains a concern, and the risk of being de-listed by retailers is ever-more significant for food manufacturers. These pressures naturally get passed down to everyone in the supply chain, including our customers, but it is minimising costs that Fowler Welch is here to do and is what we excel at.
“To make this possible, we work hard to collaborate closely with every single one of said customers to gain a complete understanding of how we can improve their respective cost base and share those benefits with them. In truth, there are not an awful lot of players within our space that can do all of the things we can, and the way that we listen to our customers and try to devise solutions for them that fit within their environment – rather than getting the customer to work strictly within our own parameters – is a subtle, yet important, difference between Fowler Welch and our competitors. It is those little nuances and attention to detail that enable us to demonstrate that we really can walk the walk.”
If any proof of the above comment was needed, one only needs to look to a few of the recent partnerships forged between Fowler Welch and some of the food industry’s best known names. In addition to the aforementioned relationship with Dairy Crest (now Saputo Dairy UK), the company has also been selected to provide supply chain solutions for the likes of Delamare Dairy, with Fowler Welch facilitating the UK’s speciality and alternatives dairy’s stock collection, stockholding, order processing, picking and distribution of its Marks & Spencer volumes, Benecol and FAGE Total Greek Yogurt. At the end of July 2019, it was also announced that the company had been chosen to support the launch of a range of new products into the UK chilled market by Ferrero, whose famous brands of course include Nutella, Kinder chocolate and Ferrero Rocher.
With demand for its services showing no signs of abating, Fowler Welch has made internal investment an ongoing priority, with its physical infrastructure, vehicle fleet and personnel reaping the benefits. “In the last 12 months, we have completed the refurbishment of the interior of our warehouse in Spalding,” Nick says, detailing one such example. “This major refit involved the installation of new white walling, refrigeration units, lighting, flooring and racking, in order to modernise a facility that stands in a great geographic location.”
When it comes to the company’s fleet, Fowler Welch has invested significantly in looking closely at its vehicles to see how it can improve the miles per gallon (MPG) it achieves. Meanwhile, it has also placed renewed emphasis on celebrating the important role its drivers – a number of whom has come through the company’s successful apprentice scheme – play in achieving positive change. A number of said drivers will travel with the company to Millbrook’s vehicle testing facility in September 2019, where extensive trials will take place on fully loaded trucks in a controlled environment to identify additional ways of increasing MPG.
Reducing the environmental impact of the business also extends throughout its warehouses. It is here that Fowler Welch has partnered with Linde Material Handling to source a national fleet of more than 180 new lithium-ion fork lift trucks. The unique benefits of these trucks include decreased electricity use and reduced battery maintenance costs as a result of quicker charging. The new batteries do not need to be changed, meaning there is no warehouse space lost to accommodate a dedicated area for this practice, and they also allow the company to guarantee numerous health and safety benefits, such as zero emissions or injuries resulting from changing. It is exactly this kind of industry leading investment and strive for continuous improvement that saw Fowler Welch pick up the Health & Safety Award at the TCS&D Awards 2019.
Moving forward, the company is acutely aware that the ongoing uncertainty surrounding Brexit is likely to result in a glut of decision making by its customers in the eventual wake of the UK leaving the EU. Nevertheless, it has prepared itself accordingly so as to capitalise on what could be a deluge of activity from its customers in the coming months.
“We have a strong pipeline of work to look forward to, and a number of key things we want to implement, such as an expansion of our warehousing capacity,” Nick continues. “One of the pleasures of our business is that we never set ourselves targets in terms of turnover, instead focusing on how we can improve our bottom line profit. This approach has helped us to grow incredibly successfully over the past decade, during which time we have proven time and time again that we can deliver significant positive change for some very big players in our field. We look forward to continuing to do so for many years to come.”
Leading supply chain logistics specialists
Multiple industry award wins over the last 12 months
Partnerships agreed with Dairy Crest, Delamare Dairies and Ferrero