Pooling Partners provides pallet and box pooling services across Europe and is also one of Europe’s largest producers of wooden pallets. It operates three pooling networks in demanding supply chains: the IPP Logipal pool, the Euro Pallet Exchange, and PRS Return System.
The Dutch family group is a leading exponent of circular economy models, promoting recovery and continual re-use of durable standard pallets and boxes in efficient pooling systems. Its production facilities source from sustainably managed forests and produce and also repair over 20 million pallets and boxes per annum from sustainably sourced timber. The pools and production facilities are PEFC™ and FSC® certified.
WLN – As a top Pallet Pooling supplier, what have conditions been like in the past year for your business?
Despite a tough economy, we have managed to grow the business significantly and increase our market share. We will be looking to build upon this performance during 2017 as part of an ambitious growth strategy focused upon retention of existing business and the attraction of new customers based upon our service and client-centric circular economy model.
WLN – How have recent international developments affected you and how have you responded?
As far as Brexit goes we will be deploying a ‘bragnostic’ approach. Producers and retailers will always need to invest in innovative pallet and container solutions because they need to move their products around increasingly dynamic supply chains. We firmly believe that the political changes will not impact our model because we will continue to offer sustainable benefits that add value and reduce the costs and carbon footprints of our customers. For example, one of our major customers collects more than two million pallets pa via transport collaboration with Pooling Partners: the equivalent of removing over 5000 truck journeys from Britain’s roads and reducing C02 by 642Mtonnes. To date, with additional pallet demand from our customers, the parties have collaborated to removing a staggering 30,000 transport loads from the UK’s roads and saved in excess of 5 million road miles – a reduction of 4000M tonnes of CO2.
WLN – What are your flagship products and services?
The IPP Logipal pool is a leading and well recognised rental provider of pallets and boxes in fast moving consumer goods and industrial supply chains across Europe. Via an extensive service centre network customers rent IPP pool pallets to store and deliver their brands. By deploying its pooling expertise in recovery and refurbishment, customers of the IPP Logipal pool are provided with pool pallets when and wherever they need them.
Pooling Partners’ Euro Pallet Exchange is the market leader in pool management of exchangeable and standard load carriers such as Euro pallets and box pallets. Customers receive pallets at the right quality where and when they need them and return them wherever and whenever; via an extensive network of more than 10,000 pooling stations across Europe. PRS Return System is an efficient and reliable pooling system for users of CP-type pallets in the demanding polymer and chemical sectors across Europe. For nearly 20 years it has operated a unique polymer industry re-use model.
WLN – What makes you the ‘go to’ supplier in your category?
We are famous for our ECOnomics model – the sustainable repair and repatriation approach that ensures that pallets are constantly fed back into the supply chain. We are able to deliver reusable pallets at a fraction of the cost of a new pallet whilst delivery leading service, flexibility and simplicity: A sustainable and low cost solution. It also means fewer trees have to be cut down in the long term. Pooling therefore has a number of clear benefits that allows our customers to maximise their efficiency.
WLN – How do you help customers improve their business performance?
As previously mentioned (see above example), we work closely with our customers to understand their business imperatives and help them reduce costs and environmental impact.
WLN – How have you changed your offering to customers in the last 12 months and why? Have you added anything new?
2016 has been a year of growth part of which is down to investment in infrastructure and people. We have grown our sales and customer service teams and worked more closely with our customers to the point where we have dedicated staff working in their facilities in order to optimise the flow of pallets. We have also introduced new products in the recycling sector and a smaller display pallet in Germany and our new 1.4 display pallet is proving very popular with users.
WLN – Have you made any enhancements to your customer service?
As previous answer and ‘yes’ to all mentioned enhancements. We continue to make dealing with pool pallets as simple as possible – both on-line and in person. It’s what we do. Our UK service centre responds quickly because we are local and we know our customers and they know us. No offshore call centres in different times zones, no absence of local knowledge, no automated responses promising a response within days. By taking good care of pooling we let our customers focus on their own business.
WLN – Which markets are your customers in? Which ones are growing fastest?
In UK&I our IPP pool serves all retail facing supply chains. Our customers cover the full range of grocery suppliers and retailers. More and more customers see the benefit of working with Pooling Partners which means that we are constantly busy across all sectors and throughout the year – whether it be Spring to Summer Barb-b-que fever, the burgeoning Hallowe’en market in confectionery or the evergreen Christmas season where every item of fayre is moved on a pallet – from Bernard Matthews turkeys and all of the vegetable trimmings, to mince pies and Poinsettia plants!
WLN – Can you name some of your major customers and tell us what do you do for them?
We have recently highlighted two typical customers.
For Bakkavor, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of own label foods, Pooling Partners pallets carry more than 5000 different products through the supply chain in an expeditious manner so as to reduce costs, carbon and ‘empty running.’
For Swizzels, the UK’s leading manufacturer of confectionery, Pooling Partners utilises its ‘One Way Trip’ solution which streamlines the process by collecting the empty pallets from Swizzels’ end customers including all of the major multiple retailers, cash & carry businesses and smaller confectioners – repairing and replacing them, if necessary, and seamlessly reintroducing them into the cycle. This process guarantees the constant flow and integrity of the pallets as the business requires – including the busy Hallowe’en ‘Trick or Treat’ season.
WLN – What’s been your most memorable recent project?
All of our customers have memorable moments, but Christmas 2016 will see hundreds of millions of items – from turkeys to mince pies, poinsettia plants and even salt to keep the roads safe – use our pallets like a Santa’s Sleigh seamlessly making their way to our customers’ premises throughout peak!
WLN – What were your other major achievements in the last 12 months?
We have passed some significant milestones during 2016 in terms of retaining long-standing clients and introducing new clients. This has been reflected in our healthy performance. It is a tough market often seen as price driven. We have turned the concept on its head and won business off the back of making the focus customer-centric and servicedriven.
WLN – Are you branching into any new areas, targeting new customers and taking on more people?
Yes to all of the above. 2017 will be a significant year of growth as the targets are the most ambitious they have ever been. We will not be shy about investing in our people and processes in order to fulfil our goals next year.
WLN – How important is staff development and training to your growth?
People buy from people and that is why they are our most important asset. We will be expanding our recruitment and training programme as part of our ambitious growth strategy.
WLN – Looking ahead, what factors do you see affecting your business? How are you turning these into opportunities?
Brexit remains an unknown but our strategy is to be totally customer focused and service-driven. Cost is always important, but we know that customers are drawn to reliability and added value providers.
WLN – Which major trade shows and other industry events are you involved in over the next year?
We are still reviewing our profile and presence for 2017. We do expect to be able to meet current and future customers at the larger European exhibitions once more. Closer to home we are also really excited to be the sponsor of the Fresh Produce Consortium Young Person of the Year Awards in 2017 which reflect our support for new talent across the supply chain.
WLN – What headline news from Pooling Partners can our readers look forward to seeing in Warehouse & Logistics News in 2017?
Watch this space! WLN – And finally, in our social media age, if you had to sum up your company in a 140-character tweet what would you say? Streamline your business. Benefit from pooling.