Chris Sturman

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Would you like to get a discount on your energy bills? Well, perhaps Chris Sturman can help. Sturman is chief executive of the Food Storage and Distribution Federation which operates a Climate Change Agreement for the temperature-controlled storage industry.
It’s a role that Sturman relishes. He has been involved in the industry for more than 30 years and is more than happy to help companies claw back money from the government.
He points out that, of course, nothing is free. All companies have to pay a seven per cent Climate Change Levy on their fuel bills. The CCA allows the operator to claim back 80 per cent of the levy in exchange for meeting energy saving targets.
“We have got about 60 members and 60 associated suppliers who belong to the agreement,” says Sturman who took over in March last year.
The FSDF evolved from the Cold Storage and Distribution Federation and can trace its roots back to 1911. The change of name a couple of years ago reflects the fact that the organisation now provides support for members in the ambient food and drink sector, although Sturman says temperature-controlled logistics remains a major focus.
Over the past few years it has been developing its range of services. In particular, it offers a competitive insurance scheme specifically designed for the food and drinks logistics industry which can produce savings on premiums. One large member saved some £200,000 on its insurance premiums through signing up to the FSDF scheme.
Sturman has also been working with Skills for Logistics, and the two organisations last year reached a formal agreement to work together on the development of a series of nationally recognised qualifications for the food logistics industry.
The organisations have signed a memorandum of understanding to address the changing skills development needs of the sector.
Sturman says: “It’s only natural that FSDF and Skills for Logistics should engage and work together. This package will particularly recognise the particular requirements of working in low temperature environments, the nature and specification of the specialist equipment used, and the special handling and hygiene care and control that is required to maintain food quality and safety.
And in another initiative the federation has come up with guidance on working at height for the frozen food and cold storage industry. It co-operated with the British Frozen Food Federation in consultation with the Health and Safety Executive.
Owing to the harsh environment within a cold store, with temperatures often below minus 20ºC, there is a lack of technology to enable staff to work at height. Consequently prior to the agreement of the new guidance, many cold store operators were in breach of existing HSE standards by using non-integrated working platforms for planned work.
Sturman points out that the new guidance is supplementary to existing HSE Guidance note PM282, and supports cold store operators in their selection of work at height equipment by outlining a hierarchy of the alternatives available.
Looking ahead, the challenges keep on coming. The government wants to revise the system for Climate Change Agreements and the federation is involved in negotiations over what those changes will mean. The government believes that companies need to be “further encouraged” to reduce emissions, says Sturman.
Government plans are now at a second consultation stage, but inevitably the general election has delayed progress – and of course the incoming government might want changes.
Sturman highlights another issue of particular concern to the temperature-controlled sector – government policy of the coolants used in cold stores. The most commonly used coolant is R-22, a hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC), which is being phased out because of its depleting effect on atmospheric ozone.
Ammonia can be used instead but, says Sturman, the cost of switching for a 3-4,000 pallet store could be as much a £600,000. It is possible to use reclaimed R-22 although there are concerns that shortages could be experienced later on in 2010.
Consequently, he says, strategic decisions need to be made, particularly in view of the development of global supply chains. Do we need fewer bigger cold stores, and where should they be? And do you then need to restructure the wider logistics operation?
In view of this, the FSDF is urging cold store operators across the food supply chain to develop contingency and longer-term capital expenditure plans to avoid additional operating costs, or even business disruption further down the line.curriculum vitae
Chris Sturman has been involved in the logistics and supply chain for more than 30 years. In the early 1980s he was general manager of the Heathrow distribution centre operated by BRS Southern for Mars Confectionery.
He moved on to Wincanton spending five years in development roles becoming distribution business development director. In 1992, he left Wincanton to become a director of Compass Logistics.
Sturman joined West Kent Cold Storage in 1997 as managing director where he developed the corporate distribution development policy and allied mergers and acquisitions strategy to grow the business into third party logistics services.
In 2003, he became chief executive of Linq Alliance, a start-up road haulage and distribution consortium with 26 shareholder members. More than £3m of profitable business was generated in 18 months. He then went into supply chain consultancy before joining the Food Storage and Distribution Federation.
Sturman has long been involved with the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport, including stints as a council and board member.

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