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‘Game-changing’ freight network delivers value for businesses across Scotland and growth for Northwards

June 3, 2021

Scottish freight and haulage operator Northwards has seen the volume of its pallet distribution increase significantly over the past twelve months through its partnership with the United Pallet Network (UPN), and the company’s managing director Mike Porter is convinced that pallet networks are now a game-changer for businesses throughout Scotland.

Northwards’ depots in Scotland are only some of many UPN depots in the UK, all of which are experiencing a significant upturn in business as more and more customers move to this particularly flexible method of delivery.

“UPN operates a network across the UK and Europe, linking over 90 member depots,” said Mike Porter. “It is an efficient and flexible operation, which means that small consignments can be delivered quickly and reliably. That’s great news for smaller businesses, who can now meet their customers’ unpredictable supply needs.

“Many small or growing businesses, particularly in the Highlands and Islands, have been severely restricted by their ability to get product to market as they would wish. Some have been forced to invest in a central storage hub further south, while others have delayed orders until they could supply a full trailer load.

“The pallet network is a complete game changer for developing business. It means that small orders can be fulfilled immediately, it is cost-effective, and of course combined loads is an efficient means of transportation which reduces traffic on the road and the resulting environmental impact.”

Currently, most traffic handled by the pallet networks is north bound, so there is plenty of capacity for businesses in Scotland to grow markets and take advantage of a south bound service.

Northwards’ depot manager at Cumbernauld, Hazel McMullan, believes that their location is particularly significant in the growth of business. “We are ideally situated right in the middle of the Scottish motorway network,” she says. “This makes it convenient for our nightly despatch of multiple trailers to Inverness/Orkney and Aberdeen/Shetland, and also for our customers from the north exporting goods across the UK and Europe.

“Six years ago, we opened a tiny office space on the site and each year since that launch, we have delivered a successful programme of growth. The business now occupies 3.5 acres of the 5-acre site, with year-on-year volume growth rising to 30 per cent and the warehouse space on the site being extended to 35,000 square feet.”

The Cumbernauld site, is now operated by Northwards and, with warehouse space currently leased to partner businesses in the UPN Pallet Network servicing postcodes in the Edinburgh and Glasgow area, all UPN deliveries to and from Scotland are channeled through the Cumbernauld depot. The final postcode area to become part of the network being Dumfries and Galloway, which Northwards secured in recent weeks.

Cumbernauld is the most southerly access point to the Northwards network, which also has depots in Shetland, Orkney, Aberdeen, Scrabster and Inverness.

“We want to add value where we can”,” says Mike Porter, “and this initiative has played a significant role in our own and our customers’ recent growth in sales. We see it as a continuing foundation for not only our success, but are witnessing its positive impact for many other businesses in Scotland.”

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