Passion plays a business-critical role at market-leading logistics company Europa Worldwide Group. Managing Director, Andrew Baxter, tells Forwarder Magazine about his time at the top. Since beginning his career at the age of 18, Andrew has gained over 20 years’ experience in the industry. This began when he joined the Sheffield branch of RH Freight – a family business founded by his father. Andrew was influential in the growth of the business. This saw RH Freight become one of the UK’s largest European freight operators with a turnover of £136m. Andrew was in the role of Deputy Managing Director and joint owner when RH Freight was acquired by international logistics firm Kuehne + Nagel in March 2011. In 2013 Andrew acquired Europa Worldwide Group after searching the market place and assessing most, if not all, midsize independent companies that were for sale. Since then the company has gone from strength to strength through the restructuring of the business to assure that each new division is dedicated to road, air & sea, warehouse and showfreight. This led to the expansion of the road freight network, adding two branches in Nottingham and Leeds.

What makes Europa unique?
We deliver value to our customers. With the implementation of 1hub we now have the largest European groupage hub in the UK. This gives Europa the chance to focus on the balance to drive down the cost and drive in the quality of service.

What do you look for in an employee?
We look for ambitious, driven and motivated people to join Europa. At the end of the day, this is a people industry – people can be ambitious and capable but, fundamentally, if they’re not generally a nice person, it’s not what we look for. For instance, we like to do the beer test. Would I go for a beer with this person? If the answer is no then it’s unlikely that we’d hire them.

How has the acquisition changed the culture of the company?
We have a great culture here at Europa; people like working for us and they want to work for us. The culture has changed slightly with new management, but overall it’s been a positive outcome.

I see you’ve been involved in some fundraising over the years, what have you been up to recently?
It’s our aspiration to do good things outside of just making money. It’s our intention to do more moving forwards. During the past 20 years Europa has raised over £500,000 for charity. We want to continue this work, as we believe it helps the way we are perceived by staff and customers. If you have an opportunity to do something good, why not take it?

Does this tie in with Europa adopting a new casual dress code?
Europa has launched a new initiative ‘Suits Away’ to help people secure jobs and make it back into the workplace. Over the next year we’re looking to donate our professional work wear to Suited & Booted and Smart Works. Both organisations provide interview clothes and important training to unemployed men and women. We want our employees to feel comfortable and at home when they are working, and if we can help others whilst achieving that, then it’s a bonus.

How has the turnover been affected since the acquisition?
Our revenue has increased by 9% throughout 2013/14. During 2015 we underwent a huge restructuring of our air, road and sea divisions, which allows our customers to speak to freight specialists who specifically deal with their requirements. Now we’ve got everything in place we’re expecting much higher levels of growth going forward. 2016/17 is going to be a major pinpoint for us to push for more growth.

What sort of restructuring has taken place?
Each of our air, sea and road divisions has been separated. Our airfreight department is based in Heathrow; our sea freight is centred in Birmingham and our road freight is completely separate again. We’ve been focused on building an operating model that is based around daily shipments to all European destinations. We operate double manned which speeds up the process and enables us to offer transit times that are based on the second departure. This then allows us to build a high level of reliability and a high fill on trailers. Lets look more closely at the divisions of the company.

Focusing on the Road elements, what changes have been made there?
We essentially made 2 hubs in to one. 1hub is the biggest European groupage hub in the UK – there is nothing else like it. The launch of the new £30 million Dartford site will result in improved efficiencies and additional trunking costs for northern freight are fully offset by reduced international line haul costs. No other company operates a domestic network with direct trunks to the whole of the UK, from the east side of London. We estimate Dartford is the gateway between the UK and the continent for 95 per cent of groupage business; it is therefore the perfect hub location for European freight. These economic and transit time benefits cannot be replicated by national hubs based in the Midlands.

What do Europa specialise in? What verticals do you handle?
We deal with a lot of international parcels, e-commerce, retail and fashion. Other than that, its all general freight and parcels.

How many sites do you have globally?
We currently have 11 UK sites, and 1 site in Hong Kong.

And how many staff are you currently looking after?
550 members of staff in total. We’re looking to settle things down so growth is on hold at the moment. We’re just focusing on developing the existing structure.

Has Europa been presented with any awards?
We were awarded the Improving Supply Chain award by SHD Magazine!

What are your plans for the company for the next 2-5 years?
We are aiming to create organic growth by expanding our sales team as well as expansion through acquisitions. It is not our intention to build our own operations on the continent. But it is our aspiration to build a much bigger business within the UK. In the short term we have plans to expand our portfolio of direct, daily services to and from the continent. We intend to substantially increase our air and sea business and over time to expand the number of logistics sites that we operate from.

What’s next for Andrew Baxter?
I just want to work in our industry long term and build the biggest most successful thing I can. I like the industry and I like the people – that’s one of the major factors of me being here. People ask me if I’m looking to sell the company, and it’s simply not what I want to do. I just want to expand this business and work happily among people who enjoy their jobs as much as I do.

If you were to give advice to someone who holds aspirations to follow your example, what would it be?
So long as you have a well thought through plan, and you are sure you can create genuine value for your customers, you’ll get there. Just get stuck in. It will be scary to begin with, but just keep going and in the end it will be ok.