Interview with Alberto Llames Romero, Xpediator’s UK Logistics Director, regarding his plan to rebuild the division through technical proficiency, restructuring and some good old common sense
Alberto, it would be interesting to hear about your background in the industry and your decision to join XPD last year.
I have worked in logistics for a long time and for a variety of globally renowned brands including Gist, DHL, GXO, EV Cargo, as well as for well-known UK names boohoo Group and B&M Retail. A great deal of my work focuses on transformation in logistics, specialising in creating new sites, growth strategy plans, greater capacity in networks, all strategies that ultimately transform businesses from loss making into profitability. I was excited to join Xpediator last year, as I knew the role would require significant transformation, and I was keen to apply my experience of generating real change.
It’s been a tough few years in business and logistics has been no exception. How have you kept the logistics team focused and keen on the future?
The market has been tough since the pandemic. For the logistics division, in particular, with its exposure to the UK high street, trading has been challenging. That said the logistics team is a strong group and together they have weathered the last three years well. I hope that I have set out our plan for the division and the individual sites clearly and that everyone has bought into our goals. Too often, I believe, business is overcomplicated, when a little bit of common sense can go a long way. Our main objectives are simply to achieve the right customer mix across each warehouse and have our customers supported by a really engaged employee team. 6 months on, the foundations are set for our strategy for the next two years, and so far we are on track for a successful 2023 and beyond.
The new warehouse in Southampton now looks amazing, though it took longer than planned. What will the next 12 months bring for the site?
Southampton Docks 2 has now been handed over to us, it’s a great high spec building situated right on the port, and we are fortunate to have a strong relationship with the port operator meaning we can fill containers in a matter of minutes. There were some significant delays and early teething problems, but we are now in a much better position. Currently, we’re tweaking the structure to offer a more competitive and flexible system which you can expect to see through the implementation of a new WMS – Warehouse Management System – that we are looking forward to launching in summer 2023. The Southampton team have been working very hard on customer retention and we are excited by the genuine potential for growth around this site.
The UK high street has been under real pressure since the pandemic and obviously for Beckton when Arcadia left this created a significant hole. What did you decide to do?
Since Arcadia left and the pandemic took effect, it has been incredibly hard to turn the Beckton business around. Beckton is heavily led by GOH (goods on hangers) and we have seen demand for this service dropping significantly as the fashion industry suffers. I have worked extensively in the fashion industry and we have looked at a range of options to support a turnaround but to really change the direction of this site would require significant investment with no certainty of success in what continues to be a highly challenging market for fashion. Instead, as we reached the end of the lease, we chose to take the opportunity to exit Beckton. Critically, some key customers and distribution partners will move into our facility in Braintree only 40 miles away.
We hear you’re also doing quite a bit of work at Braintree, could you tell us more about what’s going on there?
Braintree facility offers a great blend of traditional pallet storage with pick and pack at carton level but also a strong proposition in terms of DTC from a layout perspective. It is a great entry to the online market for SMEs. Migration of some of our important customers from Beckton into Braintree has begun and still considering other options to bring Braintree to a profitable level. The team is eager to drive our business forwards, and we are bringing 3-4 new customers in to be full in terms of storage and increasing our levels of activity. If the plan goes as expected, we will see Braintree improve significantly in 2023.
So what’s the outlook for 2023?
The Delamode International Logistics team have been working very hard through the latter part of 2022 and in the first few months of 2023 and the changes they have made to our processes are paying off in better customer service and lower costs. That gives me a lot of confidence for this year – we know what we need to do to win new business and to operate more efficiently and with the closure of Beckton and the improvements on Southampton and Braintree I am very confident we will have a very successful year.