Neville Baxter and his four sons re-organised the company’s management so that the second generation, led by managing director Ian Baxter, has now taken over the running of the business.
The business has almost doubled in size over the past five years. In 2001, sales were £48.6m with a pre-tax profit of £1.57m. By 2005, sales had grown to £91.5m and pre-tax profit was up to £3.14m. Since 2003, the number of consignments handled by RH has grown by over 30 per cent.
RH handles more than 350,000 European shipments a year and a further 60,000 from its Finnish company which recently acquired Oy Hacklin Roadtrans to create the third largest privately owned freight forwarder in Finland. By the end of 2006, turnover is expected to exceed £110 million and the aim is to achieve a turnover of approaching £200 million in five years time. This will also result in new freight hubs being created in other parts of the UK.
Managing director Ian Baxter is clear that scale is important in this business. He points to consolidation in the industry and growing price competitiveness as key trends in the market.
“To be a player in, say, the Milan to Nottingham market you have to have daily full trucks – so scale is important,” he says. “If we were four times as big we could be more efficient.”
The group currently has two hubs in the UK – Nottingham and West Thurrock – from which freight is shipped to Europe. It offers a 24 or 48 hour GX Express consignment service to the continent. Services include groupage, part loads and full loads, with cargoes including hazardous, temperature controlled and out of gauge freight as well as general cargo.
RH has over 40,000 sq metres of logistics facilities located throughout the UK including an 18,000 sq metre purpose built facility at Liverpool Freeport. It provides long and short term storage, complete logistics, including computerised storage, order picking and package dispatch. RH also has a fleet of 300 satellite-tracked trucks and 650 semi-trailers.
The company is unusual in that it has a team of dedicated freight account managers which act as the single point of contact for their customers. They are responsible for generating new accounts, agreeing the rates, taking bookings, progress chasing (where necessary) and keeping the customer informed about the progress of their consignment. Each one is given targets to achieve and this structure means that every individual customer is highly valued. In addition, RH has a team of market managers. Each manager is responsible for certain countries and acts as the liaison between RH and its partners in each country.
RH’s IT team includes eight software developers responsible for the development and maintenance of its IT systems. It monitors the location of all of its trucks through satellite tracking and uses satellite technology, rather than mobile phones, for communications because it provides a much more reliable and fixed cost solution.
RH also has a computerised freight management system, which means that every consignment is monitored from the moment that the booking is made, to the moment that it is delivered. It is now in the process of consolidating all of its systems onto a single platform using Microsoft.Net.
Baxter points out that the company philosophy is to work with mid-sized privately-owned businesses. “There is a good cultural fit and the ability to talk principal to principal.”
RH recently formed partnerships with the Swiss business M&R Spedag and the Austrian based transport company Transdanubia. In addition to its European work, RH has also established services to the fast growing markets in China and the Far East and now provides regular sea and air freight services from and to China.
2003 Joined Tarmac as head of logistics.
2003 UK Government Home Office, Centrex, consultancy assignment.
2001 Became supply chain director at HW Plastics.
2000 Appointed commercial & supply chain director for Co-operative Group’s Commercial Division.
1996 Group logistics director at Iggesund Paperboard AB; Iggesund (UK) commercial & logistics director.
1989 The Dow Company: supply chain manager, product manager in Switzerland; business operations planner in the Netherlands; project manager, planning & logistics in Belgium.
1986 Project manager for Pedigree Petfoods, part of MARS Group.
1980 Process & project engineer at BP International.