Chorlton Express is typical of many UK hauliers – a family owned and family run business with a 25 year track record. It recently joined UPN and operates a depot covering the OL and BL postcode areas, where it offers the full range of next day services on palletised freight.
We speak to its Finance Director, Lynda Chorlton who is the daughter of the original founder, Michael Chorlton, to find out more:
Tell me about your business
The business was originally established by my father in 1984. He worked in haulage for years and decided to set up his own operation. He started from home with one van and focused on parcels. He gained a good reputation and built the business slowly, moving to his first commercial property in Littleborough in the mid 1980s. The business was becoming more focused on industrial and retail sectors and is only involved in palletised freight today. I joined the business 20 years ago and my brother, Lee, has worked here for 24 years. Although we now employ 40 staff, it is still run as a family business and we operate as a close knit team. The business has been in our blood for 25 years, so we are all totally committed to it. Michael is still involved and plays an active part, giving us the benefit of his 40 years experience in the haulage sector.
What are the key challenges you face?
Legislation continues to create new challenges and managing costs and risks is crucial to success. Delivering a great service is one thing but maintaining profitability and cash flow is just as important. Markets have evolved a great deal in recent years and our customers all demand the highest levels of service, with complete transparency and attractive prices. Full load work is less attractive as there is increased competition from overseas operators, who can often operate outside of the legislative framework that governs us. Providing the levels of service required means smaller consignments and very precise delivery windows. ‘Just in time’ is the norm in many sectors, where ‘whenever you can’ may have been good enough in the past.
Managing in a sector where time is so critical means looking for new technology to remove errors and reduce administration costs. Against this background, it was inevitable that we would look for new ways to adapt to market changes, as we continue to build a solid future for the business.
What sectors do you serve?
We have developed a range of different services, all built around the specific needs of our customers. Over the years, we have gained a great deal of experience in the garments/clothing sector. Historically, we worked mainly for manufacturers, but today we are mainly involved in imported goods, as the manufacturing base has moved overseas. We work with hanging garments, which means dealing with many retailers, and can be involved in any link of the chain, whether it is container de-stuffing, picking and packing, or delivering back into the logistics chain.
Some of our clients outsource aspects of their warehousing and fulfilment activities to us. We manage over 12,000 product lines for one client in the footwear market, for example. We have been based on a highly secure site for three years, which has helped us to attract clients who value security highly. One major manufacturer has recently appointed us to manage deliveries of all their electrical products to retailers, simply because its last supplier was struggling to avoid product losses through the logistics chain. We have worked with our staff for many years and we do not subcontract any work.
Many freight forwarding companies appoint us to store their products and add value, when required. We do a lot of remedial work, whether it is re-packing or re-labelling.
In simple terms, we can manage any product from its arrival in the UK through to its final destination, whether it’s a customer or a retailer. Another key industry we have worked in is the food sector, and we run refrigerated vehicles, managing time critical deliveries into the retail.
What sets you apart from the rest?
Our close knit management team and track record is something that customers tell us they value. Over recent years major investments in technology have helped us to better manage our finances, our warehouse and our fleet. The advanced vehicle tracking system we installed is a superb management tool and has boosted customer service and freight visibility considerably. Recently, we implemented a new warehouse management system to further automate many activities and provide customers with visibility to individual product level. Our location is a key selling point and we are perfectly placed to serve the whole of the North West of England, from our award winning distribution site. We have a sophisticated electronic entry and exit barrier system and the site has 24 hour mobile patrols, guard dogs, flood lighting and digital CCTV across the site. We are close to our customers and over 95 per cent of our business comes from referrals, which we take as a real compliment.
Tel: 0844 833 0300