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The Hazchem Network is looking to boost volumes this year after opening a new 10-acre hub in Hinckley, Leicestershire this week.

The move follows the arrival of new MD Rob Symes, replacing co-founder Ali Karim, who left the network in November last year.

Karim launched the network with co-founder Jim Scanlan in 2004, growing volumes from just 43 pallets a night at launch to current levels in the thousands.

Symes, a qualified chemist, joined Hazchem from HW Coates, where he was HSEQ director. HW Coates is a Hazchem founder member and the network’s major shareholder.

Speaking to MT, Symes said the new site, which replaces the Rugby hub, opened on 2 January.

Hazchem exterior Hinckley

“The new hub is a statement of confidence in the future,” he said. “It’s 10 acres and 200,000sq ft and it’s all ours – no landlords, debt to service or restrictions. It’s bang in the middle of the country and gives our 50 members confidence for our continued growth.”

The network's previous home in Rugby was 58,000sq ft in size.

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While the hub could also see membership numbers rise, Symes cautioned that new members must be able to meet Hazchem’s strict safety criteria.

“Before we take on a new member we audit the company to make sure they can transport chemicals safely and we train them and give them advice on what they need at their depots, and their vehicle and driver training requirements to ensure they are a capable of being a safe operator.”

Hazchem members are also signed up to the Hazchem Emergency Response Scheme (HERS), which provides rapid response to any transport incident involving chemical spillage or environmental emergencies.

Symes said the new hub will allow the network to boost volumes, which have been expanding at around 10% year on year.

“We will be delighted if we continue to grow at current rates, which are strong in themselves, but with the new facility providing a more efficient and larger site and a better environment for our members and employees we are expecting further growth in volumes,” he said.

To input into Hazchem you have to be a member: the network does not take direct input or have hub accounts. “Nor do we, or will we, do home deliveries,” said Robert, “pallets to residential addresses are unsafe and unprofitable for our members”.