Noatum Logistics – Logistics for Today and Tomorrow
Present in 28 countries, Noatum Logistics is a leading supply chain manager, providing international transport, project shipments, logistics and customs brokerage. Noatum Logistics is positioned in the Top 50 freight forwarders worldwide and is part of Noatum Maritime, a leading maritime, logistics and port services company, with over 2,600 specialised professionals.
The Noatum Logistics name is a relatively new one in the UK, introduced last year when the Spanish company acquired the award-winning retail supply chain specialist MIQ Logistics, who count French Connection, Phase 8 and GANT among their supply chain clients.
Prior to their acquisition and rebranding as Noatum Logistics UK, MIQ Logistics had been established in the UK since 1996, Operating out of six retail logistics centres with 150 dedicated personnel delivering the award-winning, performance-driven solutions. This had enabled them to transform supply chains and drive business growth of some of the UK’s most exciting and ambitious retail brands.
The business’ new owners wasted no time in demonstrating their commitment to the UK, with a £multi-million investment in a new 150,000 sq. ft distribution facility at London Medway, to develop a state-of-the-art retail and eCommerce centre in 2020.
“When I look at our UK business, our unique selling point is our ability to provide our customers with a total end-to-end solution,” Steve Hicks, Contract Logistics Director North Europe, explains. “We can deal with vendors locally, to keep orders on-track and manage the pick-up from their suppliers in all the countries where they operate. We manage the flow of inbound materials, consolidating product when possible and look for other ways to reduce their transportation.”
Noatum Logistics manages the entire inbound, border clearance and receipt processes into its warehouses in the UK.
“We provide this service to all our retailer, wholesaler and outlet centre clients and also serve the growing market in e-commerce,” Hicks says. “We manage some of our customers’ customer service as well. We provide a one-stop logistics shop, from the point of manufacture to the point of sale.”
In everything they do, the Noatum Logistics team prioritises the maintenance of long-term relationships, building trust and confidence, so that their customers know they have a partner they can rely on.
A Global Operation
Noatum Logistics now boasts presences in South Korea, China, Philippines, Hong Kong, Japan, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan, Vietnam, United Kingdom, Holland, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, Algeria, Morocco, United States, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Chile and Peru. Their innovative character allows them to offer specific, integrated, complex and added value responses for their clients’ supply chains.
However, being a global operator means facing a global array of challenges.
“In a global marketplace culture plays a part in every region and every country,” Hicks explains. “Different areas have different local priorities and objectives and making sense of those different perspectives and aspirations is probably the biggest challenge we face.”
“MIQ’s merger with Noatum Logistics has been particularly successful because we weren’t operating in the same countries so there was no duplication, just a simple and immediate geographic expansion.”
“That doesn’t mean the process isn’t also a lot of work, but that work is more than outweighed by the benefits of the merger.”
“There’s a lot to do, even down to changing the names on everything, but it’s been a pain-free process that allowed us to develop a longer-term strategy and vision and look at investment in the UK business over a longer period,” Hicks says. “Previously we were always focused on the short term because of investment challenges.”
Taking Care of Talent
Noatum Logistics is kept running by a global team of over 1,700 professionals, all with great experience in the sector. The company’s motto, “Excellence in Logistics Services” is one the staff take to heart, and it is put into practice every day through the high-quality services they offer their customers. But finding the people who can do that can be a real challenge.
“Most companies in logistics, particularly in the UK are finding this difficult, partly due to Brexit related issues,” Hicks admits. “Some European countries are offering tax incentives for people not to come to the UK and stay within their own countries. It can be challenging these days finding good quality labour. The UK market pre-COVID-19 was at almost full employment.”
In such a competitive labour market, Hicks appreciates how essential it is to take care of and appreciate the talent Noatum Logistics has on board.
“It’s all about providing them with the right environment. A lot of our staff are warehouse operatives who are typically paid minimum wage. We always pay above the minimum wage to attract and retain staff and experience,” he says. “We provide the right environment for our staff and give them the knowledge that they are valued and wanted.”
At the same time, Noatum Logistics is also looking into automated and semi-automated solutions to handle the workload at its new eCommerce logistics facility, which will be capable of processing 600 orders an hour, or 50,000 pcs a week, equivalent to 2.5million parcels in a year.
“We’re looking at solutions that are semi-automated,” Hicks says. “Sometimes automation is a very rigid process. We’ve got flexibility in our solutions so we can adapt and change as our customers do.”
Adapting and changing are the keywords now, particularly with the seismic shifts currently seen in the retail sector.
“We’ve seen the shift from bricks and mortar retail stores towards e-commerce and that will just accelerate faster now with the current Covid-19 pandemic,” Hicks says. “Certainly, when we talk to our customers, they see that as the vision for the next five years. We are seeing a decline in investment in high streets and retail shops, and they are looking to increase their sales and revenue through e-commerce. So, for us, this project was more about having the opportunity to provide a platform for e-commerce, and to embrace new technology about helping us with our labour challenges.”