Four businesses go head-to-head in the shortlist for the Business Excellence Award, sponsored by Hireco, at the Motor Transport Awards this year: Europa Worldwide Group, Miniclipper Logistics, Palletforce and TPN - The Pallet Network.

The Motor Transport Awards 2018 take place at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London on 4 July.

Business Excellence, sponsored by Hireco

Europa Worldwide Group Image 2

Europa Worldwide Group

Europa Worldwide Group was acquired by Andrew Baxter in 2013. Since then it has drawn to a close its most successful year on record, it has raised thousands of pounds for charity and is realising its ambition of becoming the leading distributor of goods between the UK and the continent. Following the acquisition, Baxter split the business into four divisions: Road; Air and Sea; Warehouse; and Showfreight – with separate management, sales organisations and customer service methods for each division. This was followed by breaking ground on its £30m Dartford hub. Europa closed smaller logistics operations in Glasgow, Newcastle, Manchester and Heathrow as they were too small to be economic, and focused on its three larger sites in Birmingham, Erith and Northampton. The Erith operation was subsequently moved to the new site in Dartford, which opened in May 2015. Five years after the acquisition, the company is now on a strong financial footing following a huge amount of change in a very short period, which was financially and operationally disruptive. In the year before the acquisition, group profit-before-tax stood at £412,000, in 2017 it was £3m, and is expected to rise to £4.6m in 2018. Organic sales growth across the business is running at 20%. The business commits itself to raising money for charity each year. Since 1978 (and the start of Europa’s Charitable Trust) Europa Worldwide Group has raised more than £500,000 for good causes and in 2016 donated £14,500 between 30 UK charities.

The judges said Europa was a “great growth story” and was a business that had a “clear plan” and “good leadership”.

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Miniclipper Logistics

Miniclipper Logistics is a fast-growing family business based in the heart of Bedfordshire, specialising in UK B2B pallet delivery and warehousing services. It was started in 1971 by Mick Masters as a one-man-and-a-van operation, and now runs 40 trucks, 35 trailers, four warehouses and a 24-hour DC, as well as delivering 250,000 pallets a year as members of the Palletline and Hazchem networks. In the three years from 2014/15 to 2016/17 turnover increased 17.6%, while its delivery KPIs are between 97.5% and 99.4%. Miniclipper believes a personalised touch speaks much louder than a formal email, which is why its customers are provided with a specific ‘go to’ customer services representative, who they have met and who understands their business, as well as full access to its leadership team when required. Miniclipper has installed solar panels on its owned warehouses and installed energy-efficient lighting to reduce electricity consumption – and is active in the local community, sponsoring Wing Raiders Junior football team. Staff retention is high, with almost half the workforce having worked for Miniclipper for at least five years, with approximately 15% being there for 10 to 20 years, and 3% being with the business for 30 to 40 years.

Miniclipper was praised by the judges for its “exceptional service, people and environmental focus”. They also liked its focus on creating a strong foundation for the future.

Palletforce Image 2


With unrivalled investment in technology, infrastructure and people – including a new £50m super hub – Palletforce delivered record service, volumes, turnover and profit in 2017. Backed by experienced management, robust financials and business excellence, the company has invested in global growth opportunities to secure long-term success for itself and its members. In 2015 it was acquired by Emergevest, and during that time a three-pronged strategy for growth was adopted. Its 620,000ft2 super hub opened in 2017 and is capable of handling 30,000 pallets per night. It has introduced a new express service to eight European countries, bringing cover on the continent to 25 countries. It is also in the process of rolling out its business model across selected regions of Shanghai, bringing the pallet network concept to China. It launched an in-house freight forwarding services, alongside Allport Cargo Services (a fellow EmergeVest company), earlier this year.

The judges said Palletforce had shown “great progression” and was a “very innovative business” that was “well run and highly profitable”.

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TPN – The Pallet Network

In three years TPN has moved from a conservative, low-profile business to an innovative, sector-leading network, with strong investment in IT development, regional hubs, membership and marketing – all while boosting turnover and profit. Following a management buy-out in 2015, it added 20 new members; developed an in-house mobile customer app for job input and track-and-trace; reduced delivery areas to make members more profitable and shorten service times and introduced a new livery in March 2017. TPN has taken a long-term view of sector volume growth and is developing peak-proof service resilience, based in excellence of operations, standards, infrastructure and technology. It nurtures its members and its staff, protects the environment and is committed to promoting collaborative logistics, while maintaining an ongoing programme of charitable and community engagement.

The judges said TPN was “running its business with a long-term sustainable strategy for success” and was “very responsive and focused on managing services to a high level”.