East Anglia: Century Logistics defies the gloom with continued expansion
A GROWING East Anglia-based logistics firm says it is bucking the economic trend after diversifying its business to meet clients’ needs.
Century Logistics this month celebrates the first anniversary of the opening of its giant 140,000sq ft flagship warehouse on the A14 at the Saxham Business Park, near Bury St Edmunds.
The business, which has a turnover of about �6million, began life as a warehousing operation but has grown to include several other arms, from a customer care call centre to product repairs, quality control, product development and an online service for end-of-line and returned products.
It has a total of more than 400,000sq ft of warehousing in East Anglia, mainly centred around Thetford, where it has a further five sites, and is expanding its workforce in response to rising demand for its services, despite the economic downturn.
The warehousing side of the business is growing at a rate of about 25% a year, while the e-bay sales side has approximately doubled in size year-on-year. Managing director Stephen Basey-Fisher, who started the business from scratch 15 years ago with his wife, Ann, said their emphasis had been in helping their customers to become more profitable by taking over “the bit in the middle” so that they could concentrate on their core activities of buying and selling.
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“It helps to make the customer more profitable, particularly in an economic downturn,” he said. “We understand that our success is dependent on the success of our customers and that the formation of a true partnership enables both parties to achieve their growth ambitions.”
Out of his 140 staff, nearly half are now employed on the after sales side, rather than in warehousing.
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The new �10million Bury warehouse, which the firm fitted out itself, had proved a great success, he said, particularly as 75% of Century’s business comes out of Felixstowe, but the Thetford part of the operation had also thrived following the move, he said.
“It has been absolutely fantastic. It has already attracted more business and more business leads especially, and also it’s a great flagship to show the diversity of our company,” he said.
“While the rest of the UK has been making redundancies, Century Logistics has seen its workforce expand from 110 to 140 people over the past year and we are looking to recruit once again as we continue to offer our unique services to existing and new clients, ranging from internet start-up companies to multinational retailers.”
The Bury site has been privately financed under a joint venture with Dorel, the world’s biggest nursery products company, after attempts to get a bank loan to back the project had failed.
“We are a success story in a difficult economic climate and we are creating jobs and quite a diversity of jobs,” said Mr Basey-Fisher.