Logistics company innovates through a bumper year
Originally set for February, our later than planned conversation with Graham Lackey, Managing Director of Brit European, turned out to be a fascinating dive into business resilience and meeting adversity head on.
Founded 96 years ago, Brit European is a great example of a business with innovation at its core. The specialist logistics provider operates across a diverse range of markets and has been the instigator of many revolutionary logistics solutions. From its first milk tanker, the company now specialises in the transport of commercial vehicles and plant, as well as a tanker division, brokerage, and driver recruitment agency.
Adapting to challenges
Brexit on the horizon was something they could attempt to plan for, however the events of 2020 were a huge test for the company, not least because of the nature of their work. At the start of the year Graham was optimistic, “we were expecting a bumper year, but by the end of March we had lost 95% of our business overnight”. It was tough, especially since their strong balance sheet, ready in preparation for Brexit, was needed to get them through the early pandemic months.
Always ready to adapt, they quickly made changes to ensure the safety of their employees, while also making big business decisions. As Graham explains,
“I don’t think I’ve made so many major decisions in such a short space of time. I mean, literally, within two weeks, we managed to collapse our cost base down to absolute minimum levels. I can’t believe we actually achieved it in that time scale.”
Supported by technology
Home working wasn’t a problem however, since Graham had recently worked with Datel to upgrade their systems. Upgrading to Sage 200cloud meant the team were now able to access information remotely and securely.
Thanks to this investment in their technology and the diversity of their business, they were soon able to turn the situation around. Demand for their home delivery vans increased, as well as their Weightlifter Division vehicles used for modular buildings like new hospital wings. By June, the company was profitable again and sales have steadily climbed back to levels seen pre Covid.
The future looks bright
As the Brexit deal is now confirmed, Graham is looking to the future and how Brit European can continue to innovate. Their core work continues with new and existing clients, and they are soon to release an exciting vehicle concept designed in response to recent events. Having seen first hand the benefits of improved technology, Graham is now prioritising the speed in which management information can be accessed and used to make better and even faster management decisions.
With all its upheaval, the pandemic has brought many positive practices that Graham is keen to keep, including transparency with their employees.
“I’ve communicated every few weeks with the whole workforce. From drivers to remote based staff, directly, by letter, by email, sometimes by social media. It’s a bit of extra time for me, but I think it has made a big difference.”