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Since Action Storage began trading in April 1986, they have outfitted thousands of warehouses, shops, stores, schools, offices, and hospitals, enabling them to maximise their use of storage space. Best known for their Supershelf™ mobile shelving solutions which can usually increase by 50% the storage capacity of an area, their ground breaking Metalsistem shelving, eXtreme Plastic Lockers® and Atlas Steel Lockers®, today Action Storage Systems’ portfolio takes in the manufacture, supply and installation of the latest innovative ranges of shelving, lockers and racking, both bespoke and standard products.

Standard products are a central part of Action Storage’s business. Their latest annual catalogue covers 180 pages, is downloadable as a pdf and features a product range including shelving, racking, lockers, workshop equipment, storage and handling containers, environmental and waste products, premises equipment, trucks and trolleys and access equipment. Action Storage’s highly successful website offers their full catalogue range, as well as hundreds more product options which are regularly updated. Customers can enjoy a 5% discount on purchases online.

Among their larger storage solution projects, Action Storage has helped over 300 stores across Europe to plan and outfit their stockroom areas through the provision of innovative storage products and their expertise in space planning. Action Storage’s most recent major contracts include two projects for City Electrical Factors, a sales unit in Central London and a similar contract in Paris. Tom Brialey, founder and Director of Action Storage Systems, spoke to Warehouse & Logistics News.

Warehouse & Logistics News – Tom, what were you doing before you set up Action Storage Systems?

My previous career was with Dexion Ltd, in sales posts in the UK and Saudi Arabia. My expertise and training were based on providing solutions to storage and handling requirements through the use of Dexion products.

WLN – What is your day-to-day role in Action Storage Systems these days?

I do the overall planning and manage our department heads such as Accounts, Marketing, Sales, Operations, Health & Safety and QA.

WLN – Going back to the early days, what was Action Storage’s initial business?

When we started out, we primarily supplied used shelving and racking systems. In 1990 we started marketing and selling a range of staff and school lockers, which we saw as a recession busting strategy because it opened up institutional markets such as schools and healthcare. This was the first pivotal movement for our business, and shaped our future growth. In 1995 we became distributors for the ground breaking Metalsistem shelving Super123. This product is made in Northern Italy, and we started to hold stock here in Milton Keynes. This was the second key stage in our development as a sustainable business. By 2000 we had established Action Storage as a leading supplier of stockroom storage systems to the retail sector, particularly the fashion chains, which was helped by the Supershelf™ system being a garment hanging system, as well as a hand loaded shelving solution.

WLN – What other storage systems for garments and other items do you offer for the retail sector these days?

We install a large number of mobile storage systems, as these are very popular with the retail sector. They minimise space required for the stock rooms.

WLN – How does your space planning service work?

We produce CAD drawings in Autocad. Often the original drawing is supplied and we add our layer. However we always do site surveys, and can produce drawings from scratch.

WLN – Can you talk us through mobile shelving, and its benefits?

It’s quite simple, mobile shelving is the perfect solution for those needing more storage space as it can significantly increase the storage capacity of the existing premises. With traditional racking, you need an aisle in between each row of shelving, but with roller racking systems, only one ‘mobile aisle’ is needed, leaving the rest of the room available for more shelving space. Mobile shelving systems can provide the perfect solution if you need to store a high volume of items but only have a limited amount of room, and are especially popular in locations where space is at a premium and rent is high.

WLN – How does mobile shelving work?

With high density storage, each rack can be moved independently, either manually, with a chain operated turning wheel, or electrically powered for larger units.

WLN – What mobile shelving systems do you offer?

We offer high quality mobile storage systems at affordable prices. Our mobile shelving combines the strength and durability of our Supershelf storage systems, with the cost and space saving efficiency of mobile shelving. The mobile bases are most commonly manufactured by Moduflex here in the UK or Lotz LagerTechnic of Germany.

WLN – Where do you make your Supershelf mobile shelving? To what extent can it be tailored to customers’ requirements?

We use two proprietary products. The mobile bases which are manufactured here in the UK with the Metalsistem Supershelf™ which is manufactured in Northern Italy.

WLN – Who are your major customers for tailored mobile shelving solutions, and in which sectors?

I prefer not to be too specific about who our customers are, but I can say that we enjoy considerable success in the fashion sector of retail and also wholesale trade outlets.

WLN – Do you publish customer case studies?

Yes, we do – see the CEF case study on opposite page.

WLN – What is the maximum load that a mobile shelving system can handle? What floor tolerances do you need for the area it stands on?

The standard load which covers 95% of applications is 500Kg per 900mm long bay of shelving. There are heavier duty bases available, but the weight loading is very often restricted by the floor construction that the system is being mounted on.

WLN – How reliable are mobile shelving systems? How often do they need servicing?

Providing they are used according to instructions, and the tracks do not get clogged up with dirt and rubbish, there should only be a need for a three year inspection. The mobile systems come with instructions for day-to-day maintenance that can be carried out easily by the staff that use the system.

WLN – Who do people need to contact at Action Storage Systems to find out more about mobile shelving?

Stuart Wallace or Peter Eyles: they both handle these projects.

WLN – Which are your main industry sectors these days for your standard product portfolio?

Our biggest sectors overall are education, retail, general distribution and manufacturing.

WLN – Where are you based?

We’re still located in Milton Keynes, where we began, but since 2004 we’ve been operating in bigger, custom-built premises in Wolverton Mill South. This is a portal frame warehouse of 9,500 sq ft for storage, and office space of 3,000 sq ft. This was another turning point for our business, and has enabled us to hold greater stocks of finished product and therefore raise our levels of service to our customers.

WLN – When did you launch your standard product catalogue, and who is it aimed at?

We launched our catalogue in 2007. It sells a wide range of storage and handling products aimed at business, government and other institutional markets and the latest edition, 2011, has 180 pages. Or you can download it in pdf format from http://www.action-storage.co.uk/About-Action-Storage/pg

WLN – When is the 2012 Catalogue available?

It will be available in mid February 2012.

WLN – Can people buy your products online? How quickly can you deliver them?

Yes, they can. Delivery times vary, but products held in stock such as Supershelf™, eXtreme Plastic Lockers® and Atlas lockers® are available within seven working days of order delivered to mainland UK.

WLN – What different locker systems do you supply?

We offer eXtreme Plastic Lockers® and Atlas steel lockers. eXtreme plastic lockers, which we make in Rochdale, are a tough and niche product for outdoor use and harsh working environment. We sell these in the UK and export as far afield as Morocco, Ghana, Australia and many EU countries. We began manufacturing the Atlas Lockers® range of steel lockers in China in 2008, for sale both here and overseas.

WLN – What proportion of your business is export?

We currently export 21% of our turnover, and see the export market as the major opportunity for our growth, especially in emerging markets.

WLN – Do you offer lockers on line?

Yes, we do. We have launched a new website, www.lockers-plus.co.uk, dedicated to our locker range, with over 1,200 different locker configurations to choose from. Delivery is free in the UK.

WLN – You also have a website called www.trucksandtrolleysdirect.co.uk. What does that do?

Trucksandtrolleysdirect features a wide range of quality hand trucks and trolleys to suit any application, from wheelie bins to electronic lifters, delivered free in mainland UK.

WLN – What effect has the recession had on your business?

We have consolidated our business, as was necessary in the post Lehman Brothers world. Our levels of turnover and profitability have nearly recovered to 2007 levels.

WLN – It was your 25th anniversary as a company last year. How did you celebrate it?

All the staff and their partners enjoyed a day of horse racing at Newmarket. It was a tremendous day out.

WLN – What are your plans for 2012? Are you exhibiting at any trade shows?

Exhibitions are not our favourite form of marketing ourselves. However, when we have taken stand space, we have tended to go to specific shows such as Education at the NEC or InStore at Earls Court.

WLN – Finally, where do you see Action Storage going from here?

We will continue to provide our tailored mobile shelving solutions to everyone that needs them, and what we believe is the best selection of off the shelf storage equipment. We see very strong growth potential for our eXtreme Plastic Lockers® and Atlas Lockers® in overseas markets. I am aiming to achieve 50% of our turnover going overseas within the next five years. Our ethos is Darwinian, in that we believe that it is not necessarily the strongest or fastest animal that will survive, but rather the one most adaptable to change!

Action Storage Systems Ltd

Tel: 01908 525704

www.action-storage.co.uk

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