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Niche forwarder poised for growth

[ July 26, 2012   //   ]

Niche forwarder Maltacourt Global Logistics is embarking on the next stage of its expansion plan, following the completion of a management buyout in August last year. The company, which specialises in handling high-value and vulnerable cargo is on the point of acquiring another specialist forwarder active in the film production sector in the Lost Angeles area and will also shortly sign a joint venture agreement with an Asian-based forwarder, extending its reach across 30 new cities in that region.

Maltacourt already operates facilities near London Heathrow and in Budapest, Hungary, and already works extensively for mobile phone manufacturer Blackberry in Europe and Canada, as well as between Europe and the Far East. CEO Matt Beech says: “We are not aiming to be kilo millionaires. We’re staying within the markets that we know well and which have performed very well for us. We’ve reached the size we want to be.”

The film industry is another activity for Maltcourt and the Los Angeles acquisition will strengthen its presence in that highly demanding sector.

The Asian joint venture will allow Maltacourt to extend its highly specialised freight services into a major new region. “We specialise in ‘theft-attractive’ cargo so it’s important for us to have control over our own office networks rather than work through agents,” Matt Beech explains.

Maltacourt’s administrative headquarters is in Runcorn, Cheshire, a reflection of its roots in the thermoceramics and refractory products industry. It also manages its IT operations in Runcorn, an important part of its service. “My own background is in IT,” Matt Beech says, “and this business is as much about managing data as it is about moving freight. We can analyse trends and data for our customers. For instance, we might know how many products are shipped, and to where, and how different markets are performing” – information that is not always readily available in an easily assimilable form to the customers themselves. Maltacourt can also provide predictions for future sales trends.

The film industry is a rather different business, though it also involves handling valuble, vulnerable goods. “It’s very niche, involving working wherever the film location is and it’s very demanding,” Beech says. “You cannot afford to be late, because filming licences expire and Tom Cruise is only going to be in that one place for one day. And the equipment is delicate and high value – while the ‘rushes’ are of course virtually irreplaceable.”

Maltacourt has heavily in security devices and training, and in its personel, both at its premises and for its vehicles. It is one of the pioneers of ‘smoke cloaks’, which fill a building with dense fog making it impossible for intruders to see their hands in front of their faces within seconds; it has the only building in Hungary fitted with the technology.

Matt Beech regrets the disbandment of the Operation Grafton Heathrow anti-theft Police team about a year ago, although the theft record of Heathrow is still greatly improved compared with the position before Operation Grafton was set up. “I would like to see Operation Grafton reinstated, but the team has been disbanded and a number of specialists have gone overseas. It’s seen as ‘a problem fixed’ and cargo crime isn’t seen as a government problem. If there is an incident, it’s some poor forwarder who will bear the brunt.”

Meanwhile, Maltcourt is continue to strengthen its own security, with strong emphasis on staff training, backed ip by some very sophisticated tracking devices that can locate vehicles with pinpoint accuracy very quickly. The smoke cloak at its Heathrow facility has been used in anger just once in 2010; the terrified thieves fled virtually empty-handed when they saw the wall of smoke rolling towards them. “It’s probably one of the safest warehouses in the world, and I hope the message has gone out to the rest of the criminal fraternity.”

The new Asian partner has developed its own security procedures around Maltacourt’s.

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