Lenham-based freight forwarder Abacus International Shipping and leading Hazchem haulier Butlers of Kent have both joined The Pallet Network (TPN) this week to cover postcodes in their fiercely contested south-east region.

Abacus, which has been trading for 32 years, has previously used five pallet networks to handle imported freight from continental Europe and recently decided to take greater control of this freight by handling onward haulage itself.

“We’ve had problems with some other networks , but never with TPN,” says transport  manager Craig Smith. “We like its system and we know it works. We’re very excited to be taking over from the previous member Salvatori’s.”

Abacus has invested in a double-decker, two 18-tonners and a Luton van to handle the 30 import pallets a night and Smith says it is now looking to add local customers within the postcodes ME15 and ME17, and TN23 to TN27.

Maidstone-based Butlers of Kent MD Roy Butler says the company, which has specialised in airfreight and Hazchem work, is ready to diversify.

It will cover the ME7 to ME14 postcodes, which include Gillingham, Sittingbourne and Sheerness.

“TPN has offered us the right postcode because it is 25 minutes from our depot to the outskirts of the delivery area. It will help us to optimise our fleet and offer a more comprehensive service for our customers that have non-Hazchem freight.”

Butler expects to grow his 12-vehicle fleet over the coming year, and says he would like to further develop his links with Europe, perhaps through his separate forwarding business Consignments Worldwide.