The UPN network of more than ninety UK member locations delivers a seamless delivery and collection service across the UK and Europe. UPN has evolved over more than a decade to provide truly first class delivery for palletised freight. UPN services are underpinned by the most advanced IT systems including the Pallet Network Sectors first successful real-time signature capture system.

David Brown, Managing Director

WLN – As a top pallet networks supplier what have conditions been like in the past year for your business?

UPN have enjoyed a really good year in 2016. We have built strongly on our success in 2015 and continue to perform well as a company. At the start of the year we did have initial concerns as to how the impending Brexit vote would impact both on our company and on our industry but as the year moved forward we were pleased to discover that our concerns did not materialise and we actually ended the year in great shape well positioned for a strong 2017.

One issue for all of us is the driver shortage. It’s an evolving challenge for everyone involved in transport and logistics in the UK. I am pleased to say however that our membership is managing these challenges very well which is enabling UPN to build on our already outstanding service delivery statistics.

WLN – How have recent international developments affected you and how have you responded?

As I said we were all concerned by the uncertainty of Brexit. However following the vote we did see the market settle very quickly and we have seen similar levels of growth continuing within the UPN business.

WLN – What are your flagship products and services?

Without a doubt the UPN flagship is its unique in house developed bespoke I.T. support which is totally unique within the pallet network sector. We have some very bright people working behind the scenes for us and it’s their work that is enabling UPN I.T. to lead our sector. Our I.T. is what makes us different and really establishes UPN as a market leader quality driven pallet network. We will continue to listen to members and service users as we strive to expand our service and pallet definition propositions to attract new business and grow our company.

WLN – What makes you the ‘go to’ supplier in your category?

Quite simply the quality of the UPN service and the unique capabilities and performance of our innovative I.T. systems.

UPN believe that we are an honest, responsive company to work with. We are easy to deal with, reliable and flexible to both the needs of service users and to the needs of our membership.

WLN – How do you help customers improve their business performance?

This is a key area for UPN. We are continually innovating and looking for new ways to improve our performance, our members’ performance, and as a result our customers’ performance. UPN operate a systematic implementation of ongoing KPI reviews to ensure that all aspects of service performance are maintaining a high standard.

UPN apply a keen focus on the types of products and packaging moving through our system to ensure that the right focus on freight presentation. We have a responsibility to ensure that our customer’s products reach their destination safely securely and in the same condition that they left the supplier.

WLN – How have you changed your offering to customers in the last 12 months and why? Have you added anything new?

UPN continue to build on the successful introduction of SmartPOD, our third generation leading edge live signature capture app. We are fully committed to developing leading edge I.T. that consistently provides users with ever more accurate and timely freight data and visibility.

We have some exciting projects currently in development that I can’t tell you about yet but you can be assured that UPN is going to maintain its leading edge position as the pallet sector I.T. innovator.

WLN – Have you made any enhancements to your customer service?

To ensure that every member in the UPN network has senior level one to one focus we have regionalised at Director Level to ensure that we are able to provide consistent optimum support and responsiveness nationwide, to all our members, and to all their customers, at all times.

This year the new UPN Customer Service Mandate is being introduced to further ensure that all UPN network members and their customers are receiving consistent service excellence at all times.

WLN – Which markets are your customers in? Which ones are growing fastest?

UPN have a wide spectrum of clients across a wide range of vertical sectors. The Print Industry is a great sector for us and for our Micro Pallet and has given UPN rapid growth in this important vertical sector. At the other end of the scale the Packaging industry is proving a good one for us to focus on business development for our Two Metre Half Pallet.

It’s horses for courses, we are finding that each option within our pallet definition range draws business from a variety of specific vertical sectors.

Ours is a consistently growing market place with still great potential as the ongoing demand for more frequent and JIT pallet distribution continues to increase.

WLN – Can you name some of your major customers and tell us what do you do for them?

Our major customers are our members.We are consistently trying to help them more and more closely to develop their businesses and resultantly grow our own business. UPN have over the past few months driven forward a series of sales and marketing initiatives to do just that. UPN have been building our brand with and for our members with an exciting new “cutting edge” Website, a Marketing Development Toolkit, a range of Dual Branded Sales Literature, and an exciting and innovative new approach to dual branding our members fleet liveries.

WLN – What’s been your most memorable recent project?

This is not a project as such but it is an ongoing commitment all the same. As any business grows the big challenge is to maintain the family ethos. A key strength of a great pallet network is its family culture. Our family culture is what has helped UPN to grow. Despite our growth trajectory we at UPN continue to make significant and I would like to think highly successful ongoing efforts to retain and to consolidate our member family ethos as we evolve as a company.

WLN – What were your other major achievements in the last 12 months?

UPN have never been one to put ourselves up for awards – I am sure if we did we would win quite a few though. Our really big achievement is the continued growth and profitability of UPN and our membership in a tough and challenging market place. The biggest accolades for us are those from our customers, these are the accolades that we are always working towards.

WLN – Are you branching into any new areas, targeting new customers and taking on more people?

We at UPN are always exploring potential new avenues for growth, but we are focused on our core sector of business development for and within our network. As we grow we will of course need to expand our staff and member network.

WLN – How important is staff development and training to your growth?

Crucial. Staff training is key. Our staff are our business. UPN staff are what differentiate us as a network. Staff are the difference between a good company and a great company.

Someone said to me once – “It is a fact that good customer service is key in the service sector” – respect is key for colleagues and for customers – in the service industry it’s all about relationships and that is at all levels. People buy people first.

WLN – Looking ahead, what factors do you see affecting your business? How are you turning these into opportunities?

There have been big investments in some Pallet Networks by outside investors. Investors who want to see growth in volumes. This volume growth could easily be at the expense of service performance. This will create an opportunity for a quality driven network to establish a key niche not driven by volume but driven by service excellence. My feeling is that we are already that company providing that level of service.

We at UPN have always said that we don’t want to be the biggest but we do want to be the best. Our growth is on a controlled basis to ensure that at every stage in our business development our service performance is improving not deteriorating. I predict that the market trends that I alluded to are going to help UPN to further establish our position as a market leader quality driven pallet network.

Because of the pressures of outside investors the focus on volume growth by some other networks could really put their service performance in jeopardy. It’s not an issue for us – UPN are going to continue as THE quality driven network. Our growth trajectory will always build with this in mind.

WLN – Which major trade shows and other industry events are you involved in over the next year?

We are forming some exciting plans for 2017 – Keep your eyes out.

WLN – What headline news from UPN can our readers look forward to seeing in Warehouse & Logistics News in 2017?

As I said we are now really building on our reputation as THE Quality Driven Pallet Network. We’ve got lots of exciting things in the pipeline but I don’t want to spoil the excitement for your readers as they discover what’s happening throughout the year – so again… 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?

UPN – quality driven, member focussed, I.T. innovators pushing forward service excellence within the pallet network sector to even greater heights!


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