Wednesday, 23 October 2019

UK importers and exporters - are you ready for a no-deal/hard BREXIT? Are you sure?









Hard/No-Deal BREXIT Checklist – Straightforward Consultancy - October 2019

In our view, if you export to or import from the EU, there are 3 main areas you need to focus upon to ensure you’re ready for a “no-deal” BREXIT scenario. We have written this guidance around companies who sell on delivered terms to their EU customers and ex works terms from their suppliers, as these customers have the most work to do. For customers selling ex works or buying on delivered terms, in our view, the onus for preparation should emanate from your buyer or seller who contracts the transport, but you can still extract useful guidance from the below as all the elements are the same.
1.      Are you as an exporter or importer, prepared?


2.      Is your forwarder prepared and have they told you what they need from you?


3.      Have you liaised with or informed your suppliers or customers?

It’s useful to think through all the steps in the logistics process from when a booking is made at origin all the way to delivery and to do the same for the commercial transaction (from quotation to final sale).
We’ll start with EXPORTS.

1.      Are you as an exporter, prepared?

Incoterms 2010 will come into sharp focus in a hard-BREXIT scenario, particularly for exporters, where many have traditionally shipped to their EU customers on a “delivered price” basis, often neglecting to quote Incoterms on their sales quotations or export/despatch invoices. In the past, this didn’t matter so much for the forwarders or end customers as EU road freight is usually fully paid by either shipper or consignee (unlike air or ocean) and no Customs clearance was required.

Your invoices will have to include a lot more detail so that a Customs declaration can be made, both on export from the UK (as happens now with non-EU exports) and a formal Customs entry on the EU side, whether that is in your customer’s name (Incoterms DAP), or possibly in your name (DDP) although DDP will be very complicated due to the requirement to register as an entity in the destination country and allow Customs declarations to be made in your company’s name. These arrangements will also have to be set up after 1st November, as your current EORI number won’t be valid in the EU after 31-Oct.

2.      Is your forwarder ready?

Many freight forwarders who specialise in EU imports/exports have existed in a non-Customs environment since the incept of the single market in 1993. That’s 26 years, and so many of their staff won’t even recall a time when Customs declarations were required, and in those times we were in the EEC, and most goods of EU/UK origin would have had duty-free status provided that a “T form” was raised so Customs entries were pretty simple. I remember, because I trained as a Customs broker and did them for 10 years. These companies are now having to upskill or employ staff to carry out these new processes, quite a challenge – and a risk for customers.

Against that backdrop, we have seen that a good deal of the bulletins/guidance issued by EU forwarders to customers vary considerably in content and/or detail and they can sometimes demonstrate a lack of understanding of the whole process from order to delivery which will then be similar to a shipment from say, UK to the US. Bearing that in mind, you should urgently engage with your forwarder so you’re confident that they: -

a)     fully understand the BREXIT related changes and the impact on you and your customers
b)     have everything covered operationally
c)      have told you what they need from you operationally (in particular, invoice layout and content)
d)     will be able to provide a (door to door) service post 31-Oct and how that will differ from today
e)     are able to provide Customs clearance facilities at destination


3.      Have you liaised with your customers?
Based on recent discussions we have had with customers here in the North West, this seems to be an area that few customers or forwarders have covered. So now it’s vital that you engage with your customers in Europe to firstly discuss the terms of sale for future deliveries, as until now, these shipments were almost as simple as UK domestic deliveries, with a delivered price offered to the customer. So, it’s vital that UK exporters should specify Incoterms clearly all the way through the quotation/sales/export process so it doesn’t cause problems for your valued customers.                                                                              
And if your customers buy from you regularly, have you talked with them to explain that they may now be buying on DAP terms, where they will be responsible for Customs clearance fees, import duties and local taxes/VAT? You certainly should do, and this leads us onto the role of the forwarder, who is a key stakeholder in this process. Post 31-Oct, they will most likely (for simplicity) clear the shipment and outlay the duties/VAT for your customer, so have they talked to you about the need for your customer to bear the duties/VAT and has any account or payment terms been set up in advance? If not, like many UK forwarders on imports, they may hold onto the shipment until payment for duty/VAT has been made, adding extra days onto the delivery time, and irritating or disappointing your valued customer.

Here is our guidance regarding IMPORTS.

1.      Are you as an importer, prepared?

a)     Again, Incoterms will become extremely important, so that both the
buyer, seller and the forwarder are clear on who will take responsibility for any extra costs which will now exist in a hard-BREXIT / no-deal environment. UK importers from the EU will generally be buying on either “delivered” terms, where the supplier organises transport to their door - or “ex-works”, where the UK importer organises the transport, selects the freight forwarder and pays all costs from the supplier’s factory to delivery here in the UK. However, Incoterms may not always have been made clear in the commercial relationship with your supplier but now it is important to be clear, as the Incoterms will determine what plans or changes you need to make.

b)     As with exports, the supplier’s invoice will need to show a lot more detail so that a Customs declaration can be made, both to facilitate export from the EU and to
assist with Customs clearance upon arrival in the UK. In time, we believe that European forwarders will set up standard procedures per customer, as non-EU forwarders have done for many years, saving everyone time and giving the front-line clearance staff the information they need to declare your shipments accurately and swiftly. But in the short term, it would be wise to ask your supplier to provide full supplier and consignee details and commodity codes, EORI numbers etc and your TSP registration number if you have one.

c)      What makes things slightly different for UK importers is that Transitional Simplified Procedures were introduced in February, effectively meaning that your shipment can flow through without a formal Customs declaration, with the responsibility for a declaration being placed directly with the importer and initially allowing them a month, and now until May 2020 to make these declarations. If you haven’t obtained an EORI number or applied for TSP, you really should, very straightforward, excuse the pun!
                             
                                         
2.       Is your forwarder ready?

As with exports, many freight forwarders who specialise in EU imports/exports have existed in a non-Customs environment since the incept of the single market in 1993. That’s 26 years, and so many of their staff won’t even recall a time when Customs declarations were required, and in those times we were in the EEC, and most goods of EU/UK origin would have had duty-free status provided that a “T form” was raised so Customs entries were pretty simple. I remember, because I trained as a Customs broker and did them for 10 years. These companies are now having to upskill or employ staff to carry out these new processes, quite a challenge – and a risk for you, the customer.

Against that backdrop, we have seen that a good deal of the bulletins/guidance issued by EU forwarders to customers vary considerably in content and/or detail and can sometimes demonstrate a lack of understanding of the whole process from order to delivery which will then be similar to a shipment from say, US to the UK. Bearing that in mind, you should urgently engage with your forwarder so you’re confident that they:-

a)     fully understand the BREXIT related changes and the impact on you and your suppliers
b)     have everything covered operationally
c)      have told you what they need from you and your suppliers operationally (in particular, invoice layout and content)
d)     will be able to provide a (door to door) service post 31-Oct and how that will differ from today
e)     are able to provide Customs clearance facilities here in the UK and can ensure their trailers do not get stuck at ports such as Dover e.g. removal of entire vehicle to bonded facility
f)       will be prepared to handle your shipments if you have TSP authorisation, and can offer services for later supplementary Customs declarations

3.      Have you liaised with your suppliers or have they been in contact with you?
As with our guidance on exports, based on recent discussions we have had with customers here in the North West, this seems to be another area where there is confusion. So, it’s vital that you urgently engage with your suppliers in Europe to firstly clarify the terms of sale for future deliveries, as again, these shipments were almost as simple as UK domestic deliveries, with a delivered price offered to the you, the customer. So, it’s vital that UK importers should define and agree clear Incoterms with their EU suppliers so it doesn’t cause delays for you once the shipments leave your suppliers.
So, I hope you find this guidance useful, it really is designed to help you as a customer, especially those who have never had to deal with non-EU trade and all the complications that this can bring. There’s no doubt that many forwarders have engaged with customers but it can sometimes be very confusing as logistics people speak a different language and most customers don’t have an interpreter (apart from our customers of course!).

Kind Regards



Andy Cliff
Managing Director

 Straightforward Consultancy Ltd
Email:
andy@straightforwardconsultancy.co.uk
Web:
www.straightforwardconsultancy.co.uk
Tel: 07934 443492



                                                                                   


Sunday, 29 September 2019

Nothing ventured....

On 4th September 2019, it was 10 years to the day since I formed Straightforward Consultancy Ltd (we abbreviate it to SCL) so does it seem like 10 years? Hard to say. I remember the first 3 years were really tough, but as they say, if it was easy, everyone would do it. I actually say to people that it wasn’t a brave and bold move on my part, and having been in continuous employment since 1978, the abrupt end to my career at DHL was certainly not part of the plan, nor was setting up my own business. It certainly was a big shock to my system, being conditioned, as all of my colleagues were, to playing their part in keeping a large company on track, the usual corporate stuff.
The natural reaction when it comes to an end, is to seek new employment in a similar role, and keep the money coming in to pay the bills, just as anyone would, but that didn’t work for me. It was a recession, and companies were cutting back and laying people off, so a bit like the famous business book “Who Moved My Cheese”, the cheese store had gone for good and it was time to go and find a new one.
The funny thing was that I was still looking for work after I formed SCL, almost like a reserve parachute, but I was faced with the ultimate dilemma in February 2010. A week or so before I actually launched the company, I was offered a highly paid job at a large logistics provider, with an office only 3 miles from home, and people said, why don’t you take it and work on SCL on the side?
Having thought about it long and hard, I knew that wouldn’t work, as I’d commit myself fully to this company just as I did for DHL and Kuehne & Nagel beforehand, and the SCL business/idea would wither on the vine. So, I disregarded the advice of friends and family knowing that this would probably be my only chance to launch my own business, and on 8th March, when everything was in place, I bit the bullet, hit the phones, and started calling potential clients, making 800 phone calls in that month alone, speaking to and meeting people until we won our first client in April.
It’s fair to say that it has been tough, but when my wife Diane joined the company in 2012, that helped to spread the load, although I was always the driver, as I had the industry knowledge, and it really meant so much to me that SCL was successful, and it has been. I was also very conscious of earlier stories I’d heard of people who’d left to set up their own business, only to struggle and then give up and that was a major motivator.
When you’re a small business, there’s so much to do, be that the core operational work for customers, or all the other stuff, such as sales, promotion and networking, invoicing, VAT returns - it goes on and on, and it often runs into weekends and evenings. But if you are really passionate about your business, and you can see that customers truly value what you do, it spurs you on, and that’s how 10 years can come around so quickly.
We’ve never had ambitions for meteoric growth, so some might say that it’s been a missed opportunity, but we wanted to remain on the front-line logistics-wise, in the trenches with our customers, which can have its frustrations, but it’s our passion. We also didn't want to dilute what we had and provide outstanding service. So, despite our modest ambitions, we’ve seen continued growth, fantastic customer loyalty and glowing testimonials and I don’t think anyone can truly understand the sense of achievement and satisfaction you feel by creating a business from scratch and seeing it grow and succeed.
I must of course thank all of our customers for their tremendous support and loyalty over the last 10 years and of course Diane, but I also want to thank all of the other people I’ve met or worked with on the journey, as all of these encounters can really help to guide, inform and motivate you, even if they might not seem to be beneficial at the time. So, be open to everything, learn from people, be professional and go the extra mile, it will be noticed.
So, would you believe it, 10 years, and still growing!

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Finally, a ray of hope from HMRC for EU importers post-BREXIT


For months, many of us in the logistics world have been watching the twists and turns of Westminster politics, and becoming increasingly concerned about potential chaos at ports like Dover who handle the lion's share of shipments being transported from the EU, over 7000 vehicles per day (see below). Many of us have probably been shouting at the TV over BREXIT, because we really don't think the government or politicians have a clue about how things work (and therefore aren't best qualified to talk about solutions to things like a post-No Deal scenario).


I went to a very well-attended BREXIT presentation at a major forwarder in November who gave the audience the low down - queues around Dover could reach 80 miles - yes 80 miles, so that's clearly a catastrophe as it wouldn't just delay deliveries of incoming shipments, it'd block the regional road infrastructure in the process, no wonder the troops are on standby. Yes, we saw the 88 trucks doing the exercise around Ramsgate for the Transport Minister, Chris Grayling recently but for most of us in logistics, it seemed like window dressing to show the UK was ready for "no deal", and it wasn't at all convincing.


Of course, we're in the single market for another 50 days and today, it's a slick operation and the key thing is that the most trucks flow through cursory checks at Dover in 2 minutes, so that's great. And if you're an importer, you'll take delivery of your shipment from Europe a couple of days after that, so everyone's happy.

One thing the media and government seem to have failed to realize is that many of the incoming vehicles are operated by so called "groupage operators", which means that a truck may contain 40-60 shipments for various UK customers and in a no-deal scenario, that would mean that each and every shipment would need to be Customs cleared as each shipment would be treated just like a shipment from the USA or China and so import duty and VAT would need to be paid.


Interestingly, we have customers ourselves who import from the EU, where the goods have been held by their Asian supplier in a Customs bonded warehouse in the Netherlands. These goods have what's known as T1 status (they're not in Free Circulation within the EU) and so a Customs entry is completed for that shipment and duty and VAT is paid in the country of destination, but it delays the shipment by a day or so.

Now imagine what would happen if every shipment had to be cleared....if just 25% of the 7000 vehicles are groupage trailers, then we're talking almost 93,000 Customs entries per day, and because we've been in the Single Market since 1993, there aren't enough qualified Customs brokers at road freight operators or Customs officers to cope with this workload.

Clearly, HMRC knew it was going to be a potential car crash on 30-Mar. And so, finally, a ray of hope appeared yesterday in the form of a pretty low-key announcement from HMRC (who would of course be concerned about the thousands of new Customs declarations required should we leave the EU on 29-Mar in a No-Deal scenario) although they claim to have written to all of 145,000 companies who import from the EU.

Here's the thing, HMRC have recognised that a No Deal scenario would cause chaos and so they have announced a new regime called "Transitional Simplified Procedures" and what it basically does, is take away the need for clearances at ports like Dover so shipments can continue to flow freely, and they'll place the onus on importers to pay any duties and VAT the month after arrival. They'll need to set up a direct debit to do this, sounds like a simpler version of a Customs deferment account to me. How it'll work operationally isn't clear because of course, the freight forwarders will need to know who is and who isn't approved for the Transitional Simplified Procedures when one of their trucks arrives at Dover but this will hopefully be worked out in the next 50 days...talk about last minute!

So here's what I recommend that you do.     
1.     

Step 1

Check first that you have an EORI number (Economic Operator Registration & Identification). If you're an established small-mid sized business, you will have a VAT number, and the EORI is just an extension of that. So your VAT number may be 123456789 but your EORI number would be GB123456789000. To confirm if you have an EORI, enter the longer sequence into the EU database as one string using the below link and it will tell you if that EORI is valid. You will see that I have entered an erroneous VAT number GB123456789000 and the result shows invalid. If it's valid, then you can apply for the Transitional Simplified Procedures, go to step 2. If not, you need to apply for an EORI number, and this will be worthwhile even if you don't apply for TSP as I am seeing several road freight operators asking clients for this info in the last month so get ahead of the curve. In section 3 below, I will provide instructions below on how to get an EORI number.


 Step 2 

Apply for Transitional Simplified Procedures. This is a new regime, fresh out of the box and the website only opens tomorrow, Thursday 7th February so I can't tell you much more than to check this link from Thursday onwards and get your application in.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/hm-revenue-and-customs-simplifies-importing-from-the-eu-as-part-of-no-deal-preparation


Step 3
1.      So you don't have an EORI number? Don't panic, but don't hang around as many companies will start realizing the implications in a week or two as the fear factor ramps up. Here's the link to apply for an EORI number.

https://www.gov.uk/eori

We're keeping a very close eye on BREXIT developments as you can imagine so I'm sure there'll be more we can share over the next few weeks, and hopefully we won't go over a Cliff edge pardon the pun!

One last thing, we are carrying out this process for all of our existing customers, even though we don't focus on EU road traffic and tend to be far more involved in air and ocean traffic to/from Asia or North America - it's best to be prepared I always think, especially right now.
If you need any more guidance or support, just drop me a line, I'll try to help.


Kind Regards




Andy Cliff






















Tuesday, 24 July 2018

A perfect storm is brewing in UK logistics - and it's not BREXIT

A dramatic headline, and for good reason. For those of you who import and export, you quite understandably just want to ship your exports and take delivery of your imports in a timely and cost-effective way, and for this you will use the services of a freight forwarder (or logistics service provider as we like to say these days). The LSP does quite a lot behind the scenes to ensure your shipments move as smoothly through the various channels, be they physical (deliveries and collections, ports and airports, warehouses) or electronic (declarations made to HMRC or bookings made with shipping lines and airlines) and it all works, because LSPs live in that world and become very adept at making it happen, and hopefully keeping you as a customer, happy.
So that's all good. So when it comes to Customs, there's a lot of engagement between LSPs and Customs on your behalf, most of it unseen and very often not fully understood. Let's take an import from the USA or China for example. The goods need to be Customs cleared at the port/airport of arrival and a declaration made to the Customs IT system (which is called CHIEF - Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight) via a software package they will use. This is what's known as a Customs entry and once processed, a calculation is made to arrive at the appropriate amount of import duty, VAT and any other duties which the importer must bear. The entry could be a simple one, where goods are destined for UK/EU clients (so called Home Use) with just one commodity code (say a hydraulic pump) but it can also go the other way, with up to 30-40 tariff headings relating to various products and different procedure codes (some goods Home Use, some goods for re-export (Inward Processing) so then it gets more complicated - but still very do-able by a seasoned Customs broker at your freight forwarder.
Why all that detail you may say? I am trying to create some context here because CHIEF is being replaced by a new IT platform, CDS (Customs Declaration Service) from August-18 (yes next month) on a phased launch. I had heard a little about CDS and understandably wanted to know more, and so I went to a seminar in Warrington in late June , along with around 100 others from the Northern logistics community to learn about CDS and how it will impact everyone involved, and more importantly, what we need to do to prepare. I should add here that Customs call freight forwarders or logistics service providers CSPs (Community Service Providers) just to confuse matters more!
The seminar was very professional but within 30 minutes, people who work in the front line, and know the current systems extremely well were clearly concerned about the breadth and depth of the proposed changes, and when a HMRC presenter said "with CDS, these changes will be quite profound" this confirmed people's concerns.
The upshot here is that this phased launch starts Aug-18 and is planned to be fully implemented by Jan-19 so the timing isn't ideal, as if we make a so called "hard BREXIT" and leave the EU without a deal in March 2019, we will have to cope with two major changes around the same time, the so called perfect storm in my title.
CDS and the new tariff will need to cope with that. Even if you disregard BREXIT, the problems many of us saw at the seminar was that despite a huge amount of work going into the project within HMRC:-
  • The new system seems to be unnecessarily complicated from a declaration standpoint - for example, a Customs entry will go from 54 completion fields to around 80 (and up to 130 in some cases).
  • It will require considerable training to take place so that the whole community is aligned and ready, and it seems so far that there has been only limited engagement with a handful of "test" freight forwarders and almost none with UK importers and exporters apart from a vague letter in March which is attached below.
  • The Customs tariff (library photo of ours shown above), which across its 3 volumes is the bible for UK import and export Customs procedures, classifications and duty rates, and has been well understood for many years will also be replaced and we still await a draft version which will be another major change to digest and incorporate into the new procedures
  • Software providers are still working with HMRC to create packages which will allow forwarders to make declarations in the new environment, but I imagine the lack of engagement with stakeholders and ongoing EU negotiations will cloud the issue and cause more delays and confusion
  • There are 145,000 companies who purely trade with the EU and in the event of a "no deal" scenario, these companies would suddenly have to become conversant with formal Customs entries - and CDS. So far, Customs haven't engaged with this group.
  • Compliance - we carry out Customs compliance work for many customers and for this, we need supporting shipment and Customs entry documents (C88/E2 etc) to confirm accuracy of declarations. When we asked whether CDS would be able to continue generating these Customs documents, no one could confirm if it could, a major concern
  • Many questions were put to the panel with several from myself however most of these were take aways "we'll have to look into this", another concern for the audience
To summarize, I saw a report from the National Audit office the other day, which was rather worrying in itself, as it said that the CDS project is behind schedule and HMRC are unlikely to deliver the project on time.
I quote from their report in late June "Significant challenges remain and there is a risk that CDS will be unable to fully replace the existing CHIEF (Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight) system by January 2019".
Furthermore, they will be developing and testing the system at the same time as it migrates users (alarm bells now ringing...). They also won't know if CDS actually works in a live environment until it has implemented all the functionality in December 2018, more cause for concern.
I also attach a letter one of our customers received from HMRC which warned them about CDS but in truth, it doesn't tell you much at all!
So my advice to you is to start talking to your freight forwarder or Customs broker so they can tell you what stage they're at, what preparations they understand that you will need to make (such as updating commodity codes for your products) and hopefully we won't have to deal with logistics delays and disruption in early 2019, although I have to say that today, along with many other professionals at the seminar, I remain extremely concerned that we will.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Andy Cliff joins the judging panel for the prestigious 2017 BIFA Freight Service Awards in London!

Good afternoon All

It's been a while since our last blog however there's a good reason - we've been extremely busy with two new customers who have significant volumes of air and ocean freight traffic from Asia and the USA. We're currently in the initial review stage for a food importer and following an RFQ process, in the implementation stage for a company in the printing industry, where we've revealed annual freight savings of around 27% / £ 130,000 and as you can imagine, they are extremely pleased with the results!




Back to the reason for this latest blog post. For the last 2 years, we have been on the judging panel for the Lloyds Loading List Global Freight Awards which we've thoroughly enjoyed, however this year, we've been invited by BIFA to join their judging panel for the prestigious 2017 BIFA Freight Service Awards in London.

Naturally, we're really pleased to be part of this process, especially as the British International Freight Association (BIFA) is the leading industry body for the UK logistics industry and most reputable forwarders regard membership as absolutely vital, given that BIFA often lobby government on transport and logistics issues and ensure that our industry has a professional voice.

Please do take a look at our Straightforward Consultancy website, it’s straightforward, clear and concise, we wrote it in plain English as there’s enough confusing logistics/industry terminology out there and it makes the task of managing your international logistics even more daunting!



Andy Cliff is an industry professional who launched his own logistics consultancy, Straightforward Consultancy Ltd (SCL) after a 30 year career in international logistics, working for companies such as DB Schenker, Kuehne & Nagel and DHL Global Forwarding in operational, sales and management roles.

Andy felt that in an increasingly complex and confusing world of logistics, UK importers and exporters needed a company alongside them which could help them to reduce costs, lessen their workload and provide expert advice and support day-to-day.

Andy was part of the judging panel for the 2016 Global Freight Awards, his second year in this prestigious role and now joins the judging panel for the 2017 BIFA Freight Service Awards in London. The awards recognize quality, innovation and performance in the field of international logistics.


Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Straightforward Consultancy makes the front page of leading logistics publication, Freight Business Journal!

It's always a pleasure to meet up with Chris Lewis, the editor of leading logistics newspaper, Freight Business Journal, and when we arranged to meet in March 2017 as part of their feature on logistics and the freight marketplace here in the North West of the UK, we had plenty to catch up on. 


This was actually the second time Chris had interviewed me, the last time being in Spring 2016 for a similar feature. 



One of the main talking points this time was the double whammy which has hit UK importers from China in particular, as we had the large fall in sterling against the dollar (-20%) following the UK referendum in June 2016 and also a continued rise in ocean freight rates, which accelerated after the large shipping line, Hanjin Shipping collapsed last Autumn. I have attached a photo of the front page and please let me know if you would like a copy of the full article, it's well worth a read, with other contributors featuring too.
If you recognize the scenario that I describe, rising costs and a feeling that you’ve lost control of your logistics costs and/or service, not just from China but maybe the USA, why don’t you give us a call – we understand what it’s like to be an importer or exporter and more than that, we have a vast amount of knowledge and real world experience, have probably helped a company just like yours and could also take all that work involved with a review from you, reduce your costs, improve your compliance and tailor the service provided by a new logistics provider to your individual needs.

Not only that, we offer shared savings models which means that we do all the heavy lifting and you see the service, communication, financial and other benefits without having to become overly distracted from your primary role. It’s what we do and we’re good at it. So please do give us a call, as they say, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Take a look at our Straightforward Consultancy website, it’s straightforward, clear and concise, we wrote it in plain English as there’s enough confusing logistics/industry terminology out there and it makes the task even more daunting!



Andy Cliff is an industry professional who launched his own logistics consultancy, Straightforward Consultancy Ltd (SCL) after a 30 year career in international logistics, working for companies such as DB Schenker, Kuehne & Nagel and DHL Global Forwarding in operational, sales and management roles.

Andy was part of the judging panel for the 2016 Global Freight Awards, his second year in this prestigious role. The awards recognize quality, innovation and performance in the field of international logistics.


Andy felt that in an increasingly complex and confusing world of logistics, UK importers and exporters needed a company alongside them which could help them to reduce costs, lessen their workload and provide expert advice and support day-to-day.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Visiting Multimodal 2017 at the NEC this week?

Visiting Multimodal 2017 at the NEC this week?

The Multimodal exhibition is well worth a visit as it’s very compact and you can visit the stands of many companies, be they logistics providers, shipping lines, freight publications or even port operators such as Liverpool or DP World.

Of course, if you’re an importer or exporter, you can talk with the people from the logistics providers who are there (there’s usually around 5-6 well known ones) although they will often be fairly senior and from their London office, so will rarely be the people you would need to meet and discuss your traffic, needs, frustrations etc.


So, it’s certainly worth visiting and you will no doubt come away with a carrier bag full of brochures and giveaways – and I think there lies the dilemma – you walk away armed with info, ideas and great sales pitches but what are these companies really like to work with and are they even competitive from a rate and service perspective.


Furthermore, you may do what many of us do, put the brochures in your “to do” tray, fall back into the cut and thrust of day to day operations within your business and do nothing and before you know it, a month has passed.

If that’s you, why don’t you give us a call – we understand what it’s like to be an importer or exporter and more than that, we have a vast amount of knowledge and real world experience, have probably helped a company just like yours and could also take all that work involved with a review from you, reduce your costs, improve your compliance and tailor the service provided by a new logistics provider to your individual needs.


Not only that, we offer shared savings models which means that we do all the heavy lifting and you see the service, communication, financial and other benefits without having to become overly distracted from your primary role. It’s what we do and we’re good at it. So please do give us a call, as they say, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Take a look at our SCL website, it’s straightforward, clear and concise, we wrote it in plain English -  there’s enough confusing industry terminology out there and it makes the task even more daunting!




Andy Cliff is an industry professional who launched his own logistics consultancy, Straightforward Consultancy Ltd (SCL) after a 30 year career in international logistics, working for companies such as DB Schenker, Kuehne & Nagel and DHL Global Forwarding in operational, sales and management roles.

Andy was part of the judging panel for the 2016 Global Freight Awards, his second year in this prestigious role. The awards recognize quality, innovation and performance in the field of international logistics.


Andy felt that in an increasingly complex and confusing world of logistics, UK importers and exporters needed a company alongside them which could help them to reduce costs, lessen their workload and provide expert advice and support day-to-day.