James Wilson, former CEO of Palletways Group

James Wilson, the man behind the transformation of Palletways into the UK’s largest pallet network, is to retire.

After two decades with TNT, Palletways CEO Wilson (pictured, main) bought the business with backing from Phoenix Equity Partners in 2004.

Originally established by Andy Hibbert and Steve Aston in 1996, the deal provided an exit for then owner 3i and saw Julian Maturi hand over the reins.

Maturi subsequently returned to the network for a second stint, ultimately as executive chairman, although he is no longer with the business.

Back in 2004 when Wilson took over Palletways arguably still had a UK focus; although Palletways Italia and Benelux were established in 2002 and 2003 respectively, and contracts had been signed for what would become Palletways Iberia.

Under his leadership he built on the work of his predecessors and oversaw the evolution of the group into a pan-European business that today operates in 24 countries and more than 45,000 pallets daily.

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Wilson will be succeeded by Luis Zubialde, previously the head of Palletways UK and currently Palletways Group’s chief operating officer, on 1 July.


Luis Zubialde

Hakan Bicil, CEO at Imperial Logistics International, which purchased the group in 2016 from Phoenix Equity Partners for £163m, said: “We would like to thank James Wilson for his long-standing service and commitment, and the pioneering work he has undertaken for the Palletways Group.

“We wish him a very happy and well-deserved retirement, and I am delighted that we shall still be able to call upon his extensive knowledge and experience in the future.”

Wilson will continue as a consultant to the company.

Following news of Wilson’s exit, Palletways Group has appointed Michael Sterk to the newly-created post of chief commercial officer, effective from 1 July 2019.

Sterk has worked for Imperial Logistics since 2009, most recently as director, business unit retail & consumer goods.

The revised Palletways Group executive board comprises Zubialde; Richard Myatt, chief financial officer; Thomas Olsson, chief information officer; and Sterk.