Each Friday, Furniture News puts five questions to a selected industry professional to explore their background and approach to business. Today, it's the turn of Tim Aspey, MD of Andrew Porter Furniture Logistics and Storage …
How did you get into the trade?
I started working for Andrew Porter Ltd aged 16, almost 30 years ago, as a porter in its household removals division. My dad was a car dealer, and I think he always wanted me to follow him into that, but I loved the delivery work. I got to see the whole of Europe by doing deliveries. Every day was different. In 1995 I had progressed to general manager, and helped to set up the company’s furniture logistics arm from scratch. I was appointed as MD in 2006, taking on the role from the company’s founder, Andrew Porter.
What was the turning point in your career?
It was great to be so actively involved in establishing Andrew Porter Ltd’s furniture logistics arm, for which we are now renowned across the UK. This expansion allowed us to become a more competitive, multi-disciplinary firm working in a whole new marketplace, and helped us to even out the peaks and troughs of the removals business.
Building on our early contracts with local furniture manufacturers, we soon became able to specialise and offer clients the benefits of economies of scale as well as expert industry knowledge. It is a fantastic feeling to win new clients and we are proud to now have some of the UK’s largest and best-known furniture retailers and manufacturers amongst our customers. Even better is to renew contracts with existing clients and to win business from recommendations, as it shows our efforts are appreciated.
How will the industry evolve?
With the improvements and widespread uptake of the internet and smart phones we will see even more of an increase in e-commerce furniture orders, putting a greater emphasis on direct home delivery as opposed to retail delivery. We are constantly working to improve our delivery network and efficiency in anticipation of this trend and work with our customers to help them adapt their business model where necessary.
Also, new legislation putting more robust requirements on logistics firms will lead to a reduction in smaller firms and possible consolidations. This puts greater responsibility on firms such as ours to keep ahead of such changes and be relied upon to meet our customers’ needs.
How can retailers increase sales and profitability?
Independent retailers in particular can reap significant savings by outsourcing their delivery and warehousing services. Not only does this eliminate fixed overheads for transport and storage, which can be particularly helpful in quiet periods, but it allows the businesses to concentrate on their core competency of selling the product, rather than handling the furniture directly.
We offer flexible pay-as-you-use options for storage and delivery which, combined with our hi-tech automated processing systems, provide a reliable service that fits in with the individual needs of our clients. New customers are often surprised by how simple and cost-effective the service is.
What brings a smile to your face in this industry?
In 2011 our client Morris Furniture Group held a charity cannonball run through Europe, which we took part in. Myself and company founder Andrew drove 800 miles through six countries in various fancy dress outfits and raised more than £10,000 for BuildAid. It was a fantastic atmosphere, and it was great to meet new people and see new places while helping out a worthy cause. Altogether, that event brought in more than £130,000 for the charity, and we are very proud to have been a part of that. I can’t wait for the next one!
This is an extract from an article published previously in Furniture News magazine. For more stories like this, you can subscribe to receive a regular physical copy of the magazine, or sign up to have a free digital issue delivered to your inbox each month.