We know Rudee Bertie as founder and CEO of CCL. But as of early February 2020, Rudee’s role has expanded. He is now also CEO of a second Lenton Group company, Linehaul Express Ltd (Linex UK). The two companies are on a path towards a merger. We took this opportunity to have a conversation with Rudee about how he sees the future of the two businesses, the challenges they face, and the opportunities they expect to capitalise upon, during 2020 and beyond.
CCL and Linex UK are both significant businesses in their own right. How do you view the merger?
You’re right – both businesses have strong corporate identities and brands, and our aim is to maintain these, whilst merging the operations and services to gain economies of scale. For the time being, we will continue operating out of the existing two locations, both close to London Heathrow Airport, but we will evolve toward a single management structure.
Mergers tend to drive the implementation of more formal processes, and ours is no different. We’re looking to streamline and gain efficiencies in the operation of both companies. We expect to align certain departments to get the best out of our combined resources.
The aim of the game is to draw both companies together and take both businesses to the next level. We are implementing cutting-edge IT solutions across-the-board, which will deliver efficiencies along with vital management information.
This is not just for internal benefit either. We firmly believe that the merged entity will deliver a more cohesive service to the clients of both businesses, and beyond, whilst continuing to offer the bespoke value-added solutions that we’re known for.
We have a great team in place, and all the skills we need to achieve this merger. I fully expect it to put both businesses on a very stable, technology-driven path to future success.
Talking of technology, where does the new CCL Tech brand feature in all this?
I’m very excited about CCL Tech. It’s an evolution of what we began several years ago, when we first recognised that the future of global logistics, and particularly eCommerce, would be driven by technology and data.
We began to position ourselves, developing our internal systems in such a way that they could be white-labelled for partners, and focusing on App and Web-based solutions which consumers and delivery services alike would find easy to adopt. Today, our developments all sit under the CCL Tech umbrella.
Our future plan is to grow the CCL Tech offering, to support not only the services we provide via CCL and to CCL’s clients, but to extend our reach across the wider Lenton Group and their clientele – and beyond.
Our enterprise legacy systems have been given a thorough makeover – a total refurbishment, major release, call it what you will. We expect everyone will benefit from improved ease-of-use, better functionality and greater intelligencewithin the systems. The tech team, led by our Head of IT, Mark Grundy, has done a magnificent job over the last year, keeping system development on track whilst also staying on top of other partner-related projects around the globe.
I’m not going to give too much away just yet but look out for our enhanced services in the coming months, including a returns and duty drawback ‘classic’ solution, and HS code intelligent classification. Our import clearance solutions have always been second to none, and we’re applying the same principles to these special services.
We may not be the first to market, but it’s always our goal to be the best. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
You teased us! What’s happening with duty collections and returns?
Well, we know we’re not the first to market with a solution for eCommerce returns. But we’ve learnt from the mistakes our competitors have made, and we’re developing our solution to be everything it needs to be, and more. We’re coming to market with a neat twist, that’s all I can say.
As for duty/tax collections, our current App and Web-based solution, CC Collect, is getting a rebrand and an upgrade. We’ve taken note of customer feedback of our early releases and we’ve been developing for improved ease-of-use and broader functionality.
Will all Lenton Group companies benefit from your technology solutions?
Our solutions will continue to be offered first to our existing clients and partners. But we’re also part of the global Lenton Group now, and that network of group companies will also gain priority access to our unique propositions.
Wherever we identify gaps in services, we develop solutions and incorporate them into our offering. These will become available to our network partners first – that makes good business sense. We want to maintain strong relationships with our network partners, which will enable us to continually deliver exceptional services to the wider client base.
Keeping our unique propositions within the group generates longevity, sustainability and financial security for CCL, and the wider Lenton Group.
Looking more widely, can you share with us your thoughts on some of the Big Issues for global logistics today, for example:
The continued growth in eCommerce and especially the developing use of AI (Artificial Intelligence) in such applications as predictive stock control…. I always welcome growth in eCommerce as it means more business for all those companies willing and able to get on-board with the technology required to manage this dynamic business stream. As for AI, well, you know my views on developing use of technology and I’m certainly intrigued by the increasing deployment of AI. We need to be positive about this, whilst keeping our eyes open for the pitfalls.
The challenge of Amazon being ‘all things to all people’, and possibly a threat to other logistics companies…It’s an interesting issue and it’s easy to see that Amazon will eventually get into a position where they are doing everything themselves. For those businesses relying solely upon Amazon as a customer, you need to be rebalancing your business. The old cliché is never more crucial – don’t keep all your eggs in one basket! You need a few big clients, not just one. And you need plenty of smaller players too. No one client must be so critical to you, that their demise or change of strategy will kill your business.
That tricky eCommerce returns business… The only way to manage this complex but inevitable aspect of the eCommerce process is to work towards ever greater alignment of retail-to-wholesale logistics data. Returns are happening already of course, but to take a returns service to the next level, data elements will need to be shared from source.
And (we couldn’t avoid this one), what about Brexit… What can I say? Brexit is actually happening now, but what form it will take is still something of a mystery. There are still so many unanswered questions. The only approach is to continue to consider every possible outcome and plan within your business for contingency… contingency… contingency.
Lastly, Rudee, what do you say to those who see CCL as a ‘Disrupter’?
They’re right! CCL has always been a disrupter – we’ve had to be. To grow from a two-man operation to a team of 80+ we’ve had to be bold, take gambles, go out on-a-limb, risk everything and challenge the status quo. That’s not easy. But looking ahead, coming up with new ideas, thinking outside-the-box (yes, that old chestnut!) is our natural space now.
Some might see us as arrogant, but I prefer to call it… confidence. Sitting quietly in the back row doesn’t open doors or generate engagement. It doesn’t make you discoverable, or memorable.
I like to challenge and disrupt, and I’m fortunate to have a talented and loyal team behind me – more so these days than ever. CCL’s band of high-energy millennials know how to speculate to achieve. The make waves and create business growth, and I’m loving the opportunity of helping to develop these exceptional individuals and guide them towards ever greater personal and professional success.
People have always assumed we were a bigger company than we were. And now we are what they always thought we were – we’re still growing!
But life isn’t just about disrupting the status quo. We’re still also dependably delivering the personal, specialised and expert service and advice for which we’ve always been known. That’s core to who we are, and that will never change.