MT editor Steve Hobson, Neil Rushworth, MD of Expect Distribution, and Christian Coolsaet, MD of sponsor Volvo Trucks UK

Expect Distribution is a family-owned 3PL based in Bradford employing 296 staff at four sites and running 110 vehicles. Now in its 32nd year, the firm is consistently improving its financial performance and is on track to achieve turnover of £34.9m in 2020. It constantly reinvests in its business and in 2019 added a new 215,000sq ft site near its head office overlooking the M606.

Expect describes itself as a “solutions-based business” that takes a proactive approach to delivering value and building trust with its clients. Customer delivery performance was 98.8% in 2019 compared with 97.1% the previous year, and last year it developed a customer facing dashboard, providing clients with live tracking of their deliveries.

Expect is the largest inputting and outputting member of the Palletline network, representing 9.1% of the total network volume in 2019, and its network delivery performance was 98.2% in 2019, up from 97.2% in 2018. Last year it invested £18,000 to equip all drivers operating tail-lift vehicles with electric pump trucks. Expect improved consignment traceability by introducing scanning from collection point and started providing ETAs for all deliveries through the pallet network and its own fleet.

Staff development is key to Expect’s success. In 2019 it progressed five drivers from Category C to C+E, employed six new apprentices, and moved two warehouse operatives through its ‘warehouse to wheels’ scheme.  Four of its management team started off in apprentice or first-line roles. In partnership with Huddersfield University and the Novus Trust it takes students on placement and in 2019 two returned to work full-time there. The company holds four driver open days per year and has successfully employed 18 new drivers in 2019 as a result.

Our judges were impressed with Expect’s financial performance, commenting on its “excellent growth with increased profitability” and “good all-round customer service levels”.

One judge said: “Having operated in this sector for more than 50 years I consider, in judging this category, ‘would I like to own this business?’ And here it is a resounding ‘yes’!”

"There’s a real family ethic running through the business so this award means a lot to everybody. We’re delighted, it’s a real accolade. It’s the second time we’ve won it and it feels somehow better this time round. We’ve had a 13-year gap so it feels good to win it again after so long.

"I put it down to genuine hard work from director level down through the business. It’s been a real team effort. We’ve spent time putting the right management structure in place over the last five years.

"This is our fourth MT award. We’ve got a trophy cabinet that we’ll add it to!" 

Neil Rushworth