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Logistics firm marks 15 years of growth with pallet company partnership

A LOGISTICS PARTNERSHIP which plays a vital role in getting household goods on to shelves as well as providing a significant boost to the environment has reached its 15-year milestone.

Coventry-based IPP, one of Europe’s leading poolers of sustainable wooden pallets, joined forces with Bedfordshire haulier F.A. Hawkins Transport to improve efficiency.

Together, they play an active role in reducing empty running – the environmentally-harmful process of a vehicle returning to base without any goods on board.

IPP’s transport planners work with F.A. Hawkins to ensure efficient pick-up and delivery of goods ranging from cut flowers to paint and crisps, with the aim of reducing unnecessary miles.

It is a family affair at Eaton Bray-based F.A. Hawkins, with managing director Jim Hawkins running the company founded by his grandfather Frederick Alfred Hawkins in 1926 and later run by his father Peter James Hawkins from the late 1940s.

Jim’s brother Pete took over the running of the business in the early 1980s and built on the success of their father and grandfather until he retired in 2019. The family-run firm has now entered its fourth generation with Jim’s niece, Lizzie Hawkins, joining him at the helm.

The relationship with IPP has played a significant role in the company’s growth and longevity, which started with one vehicle per day on IPP work. F.A. Hawkins now moves around 88,000 pallets per week for IPP, and more than 30 people are employed by the company as a direct result of the contract. The number of vehicles involved daily today is usually between 20 and 28.

Says Jim: “We started working with IPP in 2007 after a phone call out of the blue, which has grown so much they are now one of my biggest customers. The work with IPP has played a big role in our company’s growth.

“We are fully loaded nearly all of the time we work for them, which is obviously good for the environment compared with running empty and has a significant impact on the carbon footprint of those goods.

“It’s also very varied work – we supply pallets for fruit growers in Kent to paint suppliers and crisp producers.

“Whenever we’re doing a job for IPP, we dedicate those vehicles to it, which is better for reliability as well as enabling us to backload effectively. We just run everything as efficiently as we possibly can.”

As well as ensuring business success, Jim said the partnership had flourished due to the productive working relationships he enjoys with the IPP team.

“IPP is a very easy company to work with. We have a great relationship; the team is very approachable and I get on with everyone there. They are always happy to help.”

Empty running is an environmentally damaging and costly process and leads to delivery vehicles clogging up the UK’s motorways when returning to depots without a payload, explains David Bage, IPP’s operations manager.

“We work closely with our customers and hauliers to co-ordinate the back loading of used pallets on return journeys, eradicating the need for other vehicles to collect them for repair and repatriation.

“F.A. Hawkins is one of our most successful examples of this type of partnership, providing the essential transport link in the circular economy by delivering, retrieving and repatriating our pallets. Seeing how our working relationship has grown over the last 15 years is testament to this.”

IPP is one of Europe’s leading poolers of sustainable wooden pallets, which are used by major customers including PepsiCo and Tayto to transport their products from factory to store.

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