A working day: an interview with Mike Parr, Director, Perishable Movements Limited

Mike Parr Director Perishable Movements Limited

Q. What in your background prepared you for your current role?
I’ve been in logistics for 38 years, and in perishables for about 36 years. It’s a long time. I’ve prepared for my current role through this experience – there is not much I haven’t come across in this area.

Q. What has been the key challenge in getting your organisation ready for Brexit?
The biggest challenge is the continual changing of the rules and not knowing exactly where we’ll stand once Brexit occurs. This all could have been handled more than two years ago and we would have all been ready. It’s not complicated and would have been done. With a deal or not, it would have been made a lot easier if they’d have stopped moving the goalposts. The country most ready for these changes is the Dutch, and they are miles ahead of everyone else.

For us, we’ve recruited a bit, and we are doing continual train- ing on all the different scenarios and every eventuality. We are ready for whatever happens. For example, we partnered with transport and logistics company FreshLinc to operate an HMRC/ Defra approved border control post (BCP) and ERT (bonded warehouse) facility at Fresh Linc’s Spalding headquarters, enabling a speedier movement of product from the ports and extending shelf life by up to 48 hours.

The BCP, which has been in development for the last four months, will be effective from 1 January 2021 and represents a £400,000 (€439,360) investment. This includes the creation of a purpose-built, 10,000 square-foot warehouse with the ability to store 330 pallets; dedicated inspection areas for customs and Defra and the training of four new dedicated staff to run the 24-hour operation.

Q. How has the business changed in light of recent events such as Covid-19?
Covid-19 has been a huge challenge for the business. We have spent a fortune keeping our 70 to 100 employees and contrac- tors safe with gloves, masks, temperature checks and keeping a safe distance. We have foreign lorry drivers delivering loads, and they have to be kept safe too when they come to our facility.

The aviation industry furloughed a lot of staff, and this had a knock-on effect on us in handling freight, not to mention the airlines added a surcharge for Covid-19 – the latter move baffled me.

Q. What has been your greatest achievement/greatest challenge?
Our company started in 2003 and we are in our 18th year now. Our greatest achievement has been to develop a really good team in all areas of the business: sales, operations, adminis- tration. Putting a team together is like getting a football team together. You have talented players and they have to work as a team to succeed. Challenges are ongoing, and the leaders in our industry stay at the top by continuing to challenge themselves. The minute it stops being challenging, I might as well retire.

Q. What do you think the perishable business will look like in a few years, considering the changes? Brexit will thin the industry from a freight aspect. I suspect the big players will get bigger, while the smaller players will struggle. On a company level, we’re planning to develop a purpose-built site, once the lease runs out on our current facility – one that will last for another 20 years.

Q. How do you expect dairy to expand?

British dairy is coming on strong, as we are exporting a lot of cheese all over the world. The rest of the world sees our cheese as a quality product, and I think the dairy industry will grow a lot in exports. In the Middle East, in countries such as Dubai, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, and Hong Kong, they love British products, so I expect that area of our business to grow substantially. Long may it last.

Q. What does a typical day look like for you?

It’s always opening hours somewhere with logistics. I was at the office at 5am this morning and starting early to deal with the rest of the world – it never stops. I am always either on email or on the phone, and it can be seven days a week. We opened our doors in 2003 and the doors have never been locked since. In fact, Christmas Day is usually a busy one for us, as we help top-up the supermarket shelves.

Q. Outside of work, what are your hobbies/interests?

I am a family man – I have seven children of varying ages, so they keep me busy. I also like a bit of golf and to watch football.