Tim Slater, Managing Director, DHL Industrial, UK.


Tim explains how a focus on supply chain management can help agri-food businesses to drive efficiency and build sustainable competitive advantage.

EFFP: DHL has been working with downstream businesses, such as the major multiple retailers, for a little while but more recently you have broadened your focus to work with upstream businesses that are closer to the farm gate, why is this?

Tim: Our increasing involvement upstream is the result of some research that we undertook to identify where the next growth opportunities are. We found that the UK outsourcing market is very mature and this is certainly true when working with the consumer companies [i.e. food manufacturers] and the retailers – they are very sophisticated and very mature outsourcers. They have outsourced twice, three times and now some of them are insourcing because they have gained a lot of value by driving the costs out of the proposition. What we have tried to do is spot areas of opportunity at the other end of the spectrum in the agrifood supply chain; there are some inefficiencies there and we feel that this part of the chain can really benefit from the type of skills and capabilities that DHL has. There are a number of people operating individual silos of transportation and haulage [i.e. between discreet points such as from on-farm collection to tipping at a mill] but I believe that we are the first company to look at this sector as a strategic development. We really try to understand the sector and its challenges and to work out how we can optimise the whole supply chain for the benefits of all parties. So we are looking at this supply chain in a very holistic way.

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