An entrepreneurial duo that took the plunge and set up an international transport and logistics firm in North Tyneside are celebrating their second anniversary with a 30% increase in sales.
John MacWhirter (37) and Robert Cornell (28) launched LEDA Transport Solutions in 2016 after working together for several years and deciding to put their combined knowledge and skills to good use.
They were supported by the North Tyneside Business Factory through their successful start-up programme, supported by the European Regional Development Fund, and entered onto the Start and Grow programme delivered by TEDCO Business Support to look at viable scale-up options.
The transport and logistics firm – winners of the New Business Award at the 2017 North Tyneside Business Awards – exceeded growth targets in both the first and second year of the business to boost turnover to £300,000. The freight-forwarding service operates globally with a commitment to pick up any package in the EU within one hour but doesn’t operate a fleet of vehicles or delivery staff.
John MacWhirter comments: “With a combined 12 years experience in the transport industry we developed a strong network of partners that we were confident could support the business objectives for LEDA. We wanted to create a delivery service that was incredibly responsive to clients needs by utilising vehicles already in transit which may be empty or not full to capacity, depending on our customers requirements. From a sustainability perspective it makes sense to offer this space to other delivery customers and lower the cost and environmental impact of vehicles running empty on the roads.”
LEDA Transport Solutions was launched in direct response to the perceived need for affordable, reliable and fast-track delivery services. With their experience in the industry, both John and Robert felt that they could better meet the needs of customers by using existing contacts to operate a freight-forwarding service for a range of sectors including medical transports, hazardous or specialist materials and short-notice manufacturing parts supply.
John continues: “We have proven our reliability as the filter between client and transport and that has allowed us to grow the type of delivery projects we can undertake. Manufacturing has been a big area to ensure that missing parts or low-supply can be quickly remedied to ensure costly production shut downs do not occur. Equally we’ve had recent success in securing contracts with high-end furniture manufacturers supplying the likes of hotels or restaurant chains. In this case they are looking for a white glove service to deliver expensive, and in many cases, bespoke furniture to key clients.
“Our partner networks have been a key part of the business and we are consistently able to follow through on our commitment to arrange any kind of pick-up and delivery for a range of loads in a matter of minutes.”
John and Robert worked with Janice Ross at the Business Factory in North Tyneside for early support in the key elements of setting up a new enterprise such as business planning and cashflow forecasts as well as successfully applying for a £10,000 Virgin StartUp loan to managed capital costs. Now in the growth phase of their business, the team are supported as part of the RGF-funded Start and Grow programme delivered by TEDCO Business Support to maximise scale-up opportunities for expanding the business and grow the team and its reach further.
John continues: “Janice has been a huge influence on the business and a key source of advice to us. She has helped us in our approach and consequently we’ve been very sensible in our plans and expressed caution in not growing too quickly to foster stronger customer relationships. We’ve had a few blips but overall are incredibly pleased with growth over the past two years and have invested in business premises and new apprentice Kirsty Mitchell to lead on administration and operational support at our office in Killingworth.”
LEDA works directly with B2B clients and their customer portfolio has grown by 30% over the past 12 months. Every customer who has used LEDA services has gone on to become a repeat client.
LEDA was supported by TEDCO as part of the Start and Grow programme, which is delivered by TEDCO Business Support in the North East and supported by the Regional Growth Fund (RGF). The programme is delivered throughout England by Cavendish Enterprise in areas where there are lower levels of business start-up to help new enterprises get up and running and develop new employment opportunities in the private sector with a range of services, including one-to-one mentoring, business planning and helping new ventures get investment ready.
Janice Ross, Business Advisor at the Business Factory comments: “LEDA Transport Solutions is a great example of a business with strong scale-up and growth potential in North Tyneside. The business is managed by two people who understand the challenges of business and have fostered strong relationships in the sector, LEDA has really gone from strength to strength over the past two years from a fledgling start-up to being in a great position to now being in position to really capitalise on a strong customer reputation to deliver. I wish them every success.”