Interview with Mr Mark van Onna, Director Bleckmann International
How can you characterise your firm the best?
Bleckmann is a market leader in Supply Chain Management (SCM) services for the fashion and lifestyle markets. Founded in 1862, Bleckmann has evolved from a transport company into a full supply chain solutions provider with a specific expertise in e-fulfilment solutions.
What distinguishes you from your competitors?
Our expertise includes multi-modal transportation, warehousing & fulfilment, omni-channel distribution & returns and customs solutions for E-commerce, retail and wholesale. We distinguish ourselves by embracing our core values of being entrepreneurial, flexible and customer-focused, responding dynamically to market challenges and expectations. As a company we want to be involved and build strong relationships, especially with our customers, business partners and employees.
Why did you become a Gold Member of the NBCC?
Bleckmann became a Gold Member of the NBCC in 2018, because we understood that it is crucial to run our operations in the UK smoothly, share experience internationally and deliver mutual benefits.
For how long have you been involved in British-Dutch business?
Our UK operations started in 2014 and today we successfully operate 2 Bleckmann sites of total 250,000 ft2 of warehousing and fulfilment space in Swindon and with a team growing up to 350 colleagues in the peak season. More than 50% of our business is driven by E-commerce for both outbound and return/reverse logistics. We also plan our resources, including wide carriers network, to match with the growing fashion & lifestyle business in the UK market.
We are proud to be one of the logistics providers to help numerous UK and international dynamically growing fashion and lifestyle brands to expand within their home markets as well as internationally. With the total of nearly 6.5 million ft2 warehousing space in the Netherlands, Belgium, in the UK and in the USA we have the ability to handle European and N. American warehousing and fulfilment activities respectively for UK fashion brands. Simultaneously, we are also helping various European and international fashion brands to expand their business into UK by leveraging our pan-European Bleckmann linehaul network, cross-docks and partner carriers.
What are the most noteworthy technological innovations that your business is benefiting from?
As more than half of our UK business is driven by E-commerce, technology and innovation are inevitably significant development for us to sustain in the long-term business. We are facing higher expectation from E-commerce customers, ranging from more flexible delivery time & return process to more efficient order fulfilment. We modernized facilities and introduced automation in our operations to increase speed and accuracy and meet cut-off time for deliveries. Remaining highly flexible and customer focused we constantly review changes on customer needs and stay open for suggestions/actions to continuously improve via leveraging technology and investment.
Does success for your firm incorporate sustainability?
Bleckmann is as an employer that focuses on fairness, openness, people, respect and team work. This DNA is inherited by our local team in the UK. We encourage transfer of knowledge and experience between UK and NL and facilitate learning. We are committed to deploying this model to other parts of the world.
We also leverage existing assets to minimise the negative impact on the environment. With the appointment of a dedicated team we encourage sustainability across our operations.
To what extent is your firm embracing diversity & inclusion?
It is in our core values that we embrace people from all walks of life that share values and experience within Bleckmann. Just in the two sites in UK, we have 150 employees coming from 15 nationalities. Despite the fact that logistics is traditionally a male-dominated industry, we are pleased to see that we currently have 50% female colleagues in our UK operations.
Are you “Brexit proof”?
Bleckmann, as part of the logistics industry, is facing the same challenge from Brexit that is causing uncertainties to our customers. Together with our customers, industry partners, customs, government departments and experts, we are assessing the impact and preparing contingency plan for different scenarios in order to smooth the import and export processes after Brexit.
Is there anything special you would like to share with us?
We realize there are plenty of opportunities to work on together with our customers, turning those opportunities into further success in running UK-NL business.
We will continue to empower our local UK team to engage customers, industry suppliers and local authorities to grow our business and support the communities. In addition, our European and international operations will continue to help our UK fashion and lifestyle brands to expand worldwide successfully.