Last August PHS Teacrate announced the take over of its arch rival Rentacrate in a multimillion pound deal that took many people by surprise. It was the latest in a series of acquisitions of smaller crate rental companies that year, and gave Teacrate around 65% of the UK’s crate rental market. David Wicks, who was reappointed as Managing Director of the extended company, was keen to reassure customers and staff that it would be business as usual and that disruption would be kept to an absolute minimum.
Nine months later, after the inevitable challenges and ‘teething’ problems of integrating the two companies, Teacrate has completed most of its rationalisation of operations and has plans to increase its capacity further during the coming months.
Alan Thomas, Teacrate’s Operations Director, said: “There was some overlap in the location of our depots after the Rentacrate takeover, so we’ve reviewed our network coverage and made improvements to ensure better use of our resources. For example, in Scotland we closed the Rentacrate depot and doubled the size of the Teacrate warehouse nearby, by taking the unit next door. We still have the same number of vehicles operating there but we’ve taken a close look at the transport we use. Often a large vehicle would be used to deliver a load that could be moved with a Transit van; obviously that didn’t make sense. Another thing we’ve done is to install racking in the warehouses to make the storage of packaging materials easier. That means we can hold a greater range of materials in stock and react more quickly to customers’ orders. The packaging service is very important to our business so investing in equipment to improve it is one of our priorities.
“In Sunderland we increased the storage area from 3000 sq ft to 6000 sq ft and again installed racking to accommodate a vast range of packaging supplies. In Manchester we closed the Trafford Park depot and brought the staff and vehicles to the Teacrate site in Middleton. Again we were able to acquire the warehouse next door which doubled the capacity of our original building.”
Rentacrate’s Bristol depot has proved a great asset. Before the takeover Teacrate had to service that area of the country from its Didcot branch; now things are much easier and there are plans to increase the size of the warehouse there very soon.
A computerised system based on national postcodes allocates each job to the closest or most appropriate depot to reduce waste miles and cut delivery times. The combined Rentacrate/Teacrate fleet now works smarter and duplication of routes has been eliminated. One example of this is London where 28 vehicles from both companies’ depots were, until the takeover of Rentacrate, operating in the same area. The same number of vehicles now have their own delivery postcodes split into east and west areas in and around London which is much more efficient and easier to manage. To improve things further, a new state-of-the-art depot at Beckton covering the area to the east has replaced the old Rentacrate depot at Surrey Quays.
“We’re also in the process of upgrading our reporting procedures,” said Alan. “The new systems we’re putting in will mean we can carefully monitor the performance of every aspect of our operations and make changes quickly when we need to. It’s all aimed at continually improving our service levels and giving customers what they need.”
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