Andrew Baxter, MD of Europa Worldwide Group, has said that the international groupage specialist “feels like a different business” just two years after he acquired a 90% stake in the Dartford-based operator.

His comments came after Europa published figures for the financial year-ending 31 December 2014, during which it had a turnover of £79.8m, up from £73.2m in the previous year. However it made a pre-tax loss of £202,935, after exceptional items, compared to a pre-tax profit of £86,473.

Baxter said that the loss was entirely a result of the changes the company had made in the past two years; the type of changes that he believed than many other businesses would make over a 10 to 15 year timespan.

Since Baxter’s arrival the company has not just re-liveried, but closed depots and offices in Birmingham and Erith and opened its £30m, 26,368m² hub in Dartford, the new centre of all its operations. Europa now channels all of its volumes directly through the north-Kent site, a move that has seen it increase domestic and international trailer-fill by 18%, as it now no longer routes 40% of its volumes from the north of the UK through Birmingham and Erith.

The operator has branded this as the 'OneHub' concept which it believes will “change the market place for how freight is run into Europe” from the UK.

Europa new livery 2015

Europa MD Andrew Baxter

“We had some teething problems in the first few weeks, moving to a back-end system. That caught us off guard,” Baxter said of opening the Dartford site in August. “Then, after just two weeks we announced that we would close the hub in Birmingham. Six weeks after that we integrated the volumes into Dartford.”

Closing Birmingham led to redundancies (and the exceptional items on the balance sheet): “No-one wants to make people redundant. It is a miserable process for everyone involved. However, transferring Birmingham volumes into Dartford [on 1 August] meant a 70% increase in volumes from one night to the next, and we had to bring in 50 new people [to handle it].”

One-fifth of Europa’s workforce of 489 people joined the company in 2014.

Baxter adds: “Now it almost feels like a different business. Erith was pretty old-fashioned. It is easier to have a higher level of quality and efficiency now.”

Europa also spent £1.7m in 2014 on developing software for its ‘Leonardo’ road freight system. Baxter said that phase one of this project would be completed in the second quarter of 2016 as it looked to further streamline operations.