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Hedges funded: How investment followed haulage acquisition

TWO years on from the buy-out that brought a Grimsby freight forwarder and specialist distribution business together, an initial investment programme building on the businesses combined strengths has completed.

Hedges funded: How investment followed haulage acquisition

Fardel Shipping Ltd directors Ciaron Reynolds and Paul Jackson acquired Hedges Chilled Distribution Ltd in June 2016 in an undisclosed deal, moving from their Dudley Street office to the latter’s base on the former Waltham Airfield off Cheapside.

Since the handover from father and son John and Phil Hedges was completed, the fleet has been modernised and expanded, with the latest addition of five new Mercedes Actros units, taking the total from 13 to 15.

Growth of 33 per cent has also been reported.

It builds on extensive refurbishment within the warehouse as it aims for industry-leading accreditations by the end of the year, after introducing food-grade flooring, lighting and panelling, while being approved as a re-packer and re-wrapper of seafood. It has also been granted excise trade facility status by HMRC, allowing it to be part of an integrated supply chain for a key customer.

Mr Reynolds said: “Hedges holds a long-standing good name within the local area and we are keen to show that Hedges is prepared for current business demands now and into the future. 

“What we have been doing is recognising where to put investment, with the quality of the fleet, the quality of the warehouse, so we can offer the services we do with confidence.”

The tractor units follow a replacement of 10 in two phases in 2016, with a focus on fuel efficiency and data to help steer the firm forward.

Hedges caught the eye when Fardel brought vital time savings to the seafood sector in the air freight market, shaving hours by ensuring exports from the cluster were cargo-ready here at Humberside, rather by the large-scale generalists at Heathrow.

“That is the attitude we have, we are always happy to challenge to find new and innovative ways to do things,” Mr Reynolds said.

It now currently in the process of achieving Organic Status from Soil Association and BRC accreditation. It is also installing electric plug points for trailers to reduce environmental impact, with further investment in the pulled fleet also envisaged.

“When we took over the business the warehouse was seen as an added requirement for groupage work, but we viewed the warehouse as an opportunity to extend the range of services we offer and make it contribute itself,” Mr Reynolds said.

“ That’s partly where investment has gone and we’re pursuing accreditation from the BRC. We could see the fabric of the warehouse was going to be a challenge, so we put investment in place and towards the end of this year we will be submitting for full accreditation to allow us to go further with our frozen and chilled market.”

Having launched Fardel in 2009, international import and export activities have been carried out for a range of customers based in Asia, USA, Iceland, the Faroe Islands and the UK. The duo covered all modes of transport in both perishables, dry freight and special projects, such as food processing machinery and fish farming equipment.

Mr Jackson said a team of 29 was now employed across both businesses. A new team on the transport desk includes Charlie Peck, Andrew Greenways and Kev Chilvers, with more drivers sought to support the growth.

 “With Fardel Shipping and Hedges Distribution working closely together, we are able to offer our customers a completely integrated supply chain solutions. Whether it be imports from or exports to overseas countries, or domestic full load or groupage distribution, we are ideally positioned to offer a seamless service.

“Hedges has primarily been known for temperature controlled distribution services and this remains a core part of our business. However, 2018 will see Hedges move into the general road freight market with introduction of full load and groupage curtain side services as well as further extending our port container haulage services.”

Truck Links managing director Debbie Bright is delighted to see a strong existing relationship excel in new hands.

The privately-owned commercial vehicle and trailer rental business has been in business for 22 years, and operates from Estate Road Two on South Humberside Industrial Estate, Grimsby.

She said: “We have hada long standing relationship with Hedges Distribution. Having seen Ciaron and Paul’s investment strategy for the business as a whole, we are happy to continue supplying them with the equipment required to fulfil their plans, now and in the future.”

Truck Links provides full fleet management service.

“We help transportation and distribution companies, we sit alongside their transport managers so they can focus on the core business.”

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