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A Retiring Glance At Trade – Past, Present And Future

As my tenure at UK Trade & Investment draws to a close, it’s time for a little reflection…

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May 2011

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1.                 Please provide a company background including when it was established, where it is located, how many staff you employ etc.


          The Spatial Group was originally formed in 1980 as an Aircraft Brokerage, leasing and chartering aircraft. The product base was expanded to undertake various freight forwarding activities, offering a full range of services and spot prices to a given destination rather than the traditional method of routine structured consolidations.  This was deemed a creative and innovative approach at the time within the industry, and proved an immediate success with our clients. Spatial was determined at an early stage to research, create and offer our clients new opportunities and solutions wherever possible.

          With this strategy as the core focus for the company over the years, The Spatial Group has grown from its humble beginnings into a skilled and successful Logistics company offering numerous activities to its clients with over 80 staff now employed at the Head Office in Castle Donington.  The group has expanded to operate on a global basis and offers a number of dedicated services that work in harmony with the demands of international commerce.  We have invested in physical assets and IT systems to provide freight-forwarding, warehousing, courier, mail & postal services.  In addition are the strategic alliances that we have established with sector experts to allow us to offer our clients a managed logistics solution that maintains the same core focus established when the company started 30 years ago. 

2.                 Please provide an overview of the products and services offered and areas of specialisation.


          Spatial undertakes worldwide export and import freight movements by sea, air and road. Our highly trained staff also offer a full export documentation service and are documentary credit specialists. We also provide an on-line purchase order/delivery management service for import clients. Spatial’s biggest export market is the Middle East and we have been working in the region for 25 years. To support activities in the area, we have a dedicated team assigned to the movement of goods to and from the region and the associated documentary requirements. In addition to the freight business, Spatial also offer UK & International mail and courier services together with bonded warehousing, storage, pick/pack & fulfilment, on-line WMS and can provide a full contract management facility if required.

3.                 How did you find out about emita and what benefits do you find the most valuable?


Not exactly sure how we first found out about emita.  I seem to recall that we had an e-mail inviting us to an event or seminar and the topic was relevant to something we were working on as a business at the time. We found the event very informative and useful and a great networking opportunity. Since that initial event, we have tried to attend as many events as possible as we feel that the heighten our knowledge of market conditions and business opportunities and we are able to share these with both existing and potential clients. We also suggest that they attend any relevant events.


4.                 How long has your company been active in the export / import market and which countries do you currently trade with?


          Since its incorporation in 1980, Spatial has been active in the international arena.  Now trading with over 120 countries Spatial has gained a global reputation for excellence, addressing unpredictable hurdles with a confident, professional and methodical approach.  Overseas partnerships have developed in unconventional markets enhancing our network and overseas collaborations.  In a global marketplace where commercial activity and opportunities swiftly reflect difficult economic climates, Spatial has secured niche sectors where demand for its product and services should always remain constant enabling us to continue to meet and exceed our business needs.


5.                 What made you decide to expand your business overseas?


We have always been involved in overseas business but have been prudent in looking at and targeting new and emerging markets that are quite often highlighted to us by events run by emita.


6.                 What has been your biggest exporting / importing challenge?


          The senior team and management within Spatial’s freight forwarding division can demonstrate their expertise and proficiency in all aspects of international freight.  With the introduction in 1998 of a time critical and life saving product for the global leader in dialysis services and products, our team were challenged to find a qualified delivery solution and routine encompassing the needs of:


          Our client; the patient; the medical & healthcare professionals; the product; the nominated carrier and the legal requirements at destination.

          The crucial requirement for delivery was that medication had to be delivered to destination and confirmed received intact and in good condition before the patient was allowed to leave their UK home and begin their holiday.  On arrival at their holiday destination be it a resort, camp site, cruise ship, hotel or villa immediate access was required to the product for them to continue with their strict medical regime.

          Our dedicated team were tasked to make this happen.  We were required to re-evaluate and adapt from the more familiar and comfortable area of regular freight forwarding formulas, practises and operations.  Popular commercial & industrial destinations, routes frequently serviced by the main stream carriers, did not align themselves with holiday “dream” destinations and agency agreements, relationships and representation were needed in some very desirable locations!  This in turn opened up communication on each delivery with third parties who were not familiar with our industry jargon, the international freight forwarding supply chain or the critical nature of the product.

          It is often taken for granted the infrastructure and facilites available for a commercial delivery.  Take this away and you are left with domestic deliveries, limited road signs, sometimes no road at all!  Gone are the simple pleasures of a receiving dock, forklift equipment and a warehouse team with telephones!


7.                 What’s the most helpful piece of international trade advice you have received?


       Research and planning are the two most useful pieces of advice. If your company is looking to import and export for the first time, seek assistance of one of the many professional bodies, such as emita or UKTI, before setting out. Fully research the market, take advice on what pit falls and obstacle you may encounter getting your goods or services to market. Source a good logistic partner who can guide you on the best method of transport and what documentation you will require. Outsource non-core activities to an expert in that field. 


8.                 What does the future hold? Any particular markets you are looking to target next?


As an accredited “Investor in People” Spatial recognise that people are our company’s greatest asset and our employees are the key for everything that we accomplish.  Working closely with our clients allows our teams to work on service delivery where the results really matter!  The success of our shipments depends entirely on the skills, dedication and integrity of the team.  This gives our employees a sense of responsibility, ownership and results are only achievable when the whole team pulls together to complete the service delivery.  At a time when competition is fierce, no work is taken for granted and the team feel privileged to be working alongside loyal customers and the whole team strive to deliver unrelenting quality and distinction each time and every time.


          Our service to our client is based around excellent communication; quality of service and guaranteed deliveries.  There is no room for service failures and we are proud of our achievements. 


          You don’t need to just take Spatial’s word for it. 

          “... we have chosen to work alongside The Spatial Group because Spatial personnel really understand the needs of our business, they deliver on their promises and take complete ownership for their part in our service. Spatial are our supplier of choice because they simply deliver on the promises and pride themselves at being the complete solutions provider in Logistics. I have to put my faith in a partner to deliver our exacting standards and Spatial provide me with the service and confidence in their ability.  I have complete confidence in the  staff at Spatial Logistics. KF, Head of Homecare & Customer Services UK.”


          Freight forwarding is a highly competitive arena and challenges are faced daily with the ever-changing global demands on our industry and our markets.  It is a pleasure for the Spatial team to work with clients where we can share the emphatic vision for quality, value added service and all of the benefits can be seen.


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