Family ties

As the vast majority of people reading this publication will be well aware, the Port of Felixstowe in Suffolk is the UK’s busiest container port – and the eighth busiest in Europe – dealing with approximately half of all of Britain’s containerised trade. What far fewer people will be familiar with are the contributions of select individuals who played a critical role in the port’s evolution into what it is today. One such person, for example, would be Paul Magnus. Raised in Sydney, Australia, it was in 1966 that Paul became the first management trainee at the port, where he helped to lay the foundations of its growth into the UK’s largest container hub.

Paul’s association with Suffolk and the surrounding region would continue throughout the rest of his life. In 1973, he would launch his own business in the form of Municourt – which primarily focused on providing transportation services – before founding Paul Magnus Transport five years later. When combined, these entities formed Magnus Group, which would go on to offer a variety of services including transportation, haulage, warehousing (from its 100,000sq ft. warehouse at its base in Great Blakenham, Ipswich), and distribution.

Given the nature of his father’s work, it is unsurprising that during his adult life his son Olly Magnus gained invaluable insight and experience in all aspects of the UK transport and warehousing industry. With this at hand, Olly would himself go on to co-found his own business in the form of independent freight forwarding and warehousing company, Burhill Logistics in 2003. Sixteen years on, however, Olly today finds himself at the helm of Magnus Group as its CEO.

“In the mid 1990s, my father – in seeking additional cash flow and new business opportunities – sold around 40 per cent of the group to a gentleman by the name of Mike Pattinson, who brought with him work from the likes of Mitsubishi,” Olly explains. “Sadly, in March 2018, my father passed away, leaving his share of the business to my stepmother, who I have long had a very good relationship with. In the months that followed, I took the decision to sell my stake in Burhill Logistics and use my own capital to acquire the shareholding of Mike in order to bring the group back into the control of the Magnus family. Working closely with the incumbent Managing Director, Kevin Parker – who has been with the business for more than 23 years – and fellow Director and shareholder John Stringer, this was concluded in July 2019.”

With more than 45 years of activity behind it, Magnus Group has forged for itself a powerful reputation for trustworthiness, reliability and peerless customer service which is based on doing right by its clients at all times. Today, the group operates a fleet of 57 articulated vehicles hauling containers and trailers from the ports of Felixstowe and Ipswich to and from destinations throughout the UK, and often to various European locations. It also boasts one of the most modern warehouses in the region, boasting full height narrow aisle racking and wire guided man-up operated machinery, quality handling techniques and computerised stock control systems.

“Since coming into the business, we have taken the important step of acquiring additional warehousing space of approximately 105,000sq ft. from the facility next door, and an additional 18,000sq ft. fixed extension, which brings our total capacity to 225,000sq ft.,” Olly continues. “With this new space, we are specifically looking to target customers within the food industry. We are currently working towards obtaining the relevant British Retail Consortium (BRC) accreditation, which we expect to be in place in the very near future, and we have commenced working relationships with companies such as Chelmer Foods, which we look forward to developing further.

“Another important element of the group, which has been introduced in the last few months, has been the creation of a dedicated freight forwarding department, headed by Matthew Watkins. My personal background and expertise is in freight forwarding, and by establishing this area – and combining it with a significant list of global contacts – within the business, we are now able to offer a complete logistics package where our global agents, freight, haulage and distribution capabilities, and warehousing means that we can serve our customers wherever they may be, whether that is Wolverhampton or Asia.”

Another project of considerable importance that Olly has taken a hands-on role in is the complete rebranding of Magnus Group, from its website through to its logo and fleet livery. “The idea is to freshen up the brand to give it a more dynamic look, one that really does the group and its work justice,” he enthuses. “For me, it is all about the perception that the wider world has of Magnus Group, and what I am striving to do is create both a visual and physical environment that engages customers and motivates them to work with us. As my father used to say, ‘customers make payday possible’, so our focus is always directed towards them. Furthermore, such an environment is also greatly appreciated by our own people, who I want to provide a positive atmosphere for as well.”

Looking ahead to 2020, Olly’s immediate goals for the group include delivering greater efficiencies across the board, further enhancing its already successful freight forwarding activities – which feeds into other areas of the group and has the potential to be a huge source of growth going forward – and filling its warehouse space with new customers in order to increase profitability. “It is a very exciting time to be part of Magnus Group,” he declares. “Thinking about the longer-term, I am also looking forward to bringing new, hungry people into the group and providing them access to the amazing opportunities ahead of us. I have been raised to understand that a business is only as good as the people that work for it, and that has always been a key ingredient in Magnus Group’s success.”

Magnus Group
Controlled once again by the Magnus family
225,000sq ft. of warehousing
Has launched a successful freight forwarding department