Posted on October 31, 2018 by staff

£100m logistics business evolving into tech firm


The global freight forwarder, which is on track to exceed £100m turnover in 2018, has created it first self-managing business unit to speed up the development of proprietary software LEDA, and create new opportunities.

The ten-person operation, known as Ceedbox, is the first to be run on the principles of ‘holacracy’, with no hierarchy or traditional management structure in place. It’s a method common among tech businesses and is designed to reduce the barriers to creativity and innovation.

Chief executive Brian Hay said: “We always want to try innovative ways of managing people and the organisation. I am 47 and had a group of people around the table who were typically in their 20s doing things differently.

“But they were looking to me to make decisions for them about the best path of development. I felt I was slowing things down, and they were packaging things in a way that suited me, rather than what would suit them.

“Self-organisation gave me the hope we would speed the development of products.”

Ceedbox has been working like this for six months, and while its too early quantify the bottom line contribution, Hay is clear that progress has been rapid, the level of internal engagement is high, and decisions are being made quicker.

“One of my biggest tasks is to ensure that as much stuff is delegated as possible,” he said. “With this style of management, you get to that stage really quickly. You will see mistakes, but that’s OK, because they can learn from them.”

He added: “Right now, we are a logistics business good at technology, but where I really want to be is a technology business good at logistics. We are miles away from that, but it’s about setting a goal. For the team, that’s great – they are the forefront of the business.”

Cardinal Maritime, which is headquartered in Manchester and employs 300 people across the world, recently reported top line growth of £85m at the end of 2017 and is expected to exceed the £100m mark this year. In the past four years it has opened four offices in China and plans a further two in South East Asia – Thailand and Vietnam – in the next 12 months.

Technology development has linked its global operations on a common platform, enabling it to respond to growing demands for real-time information from customers. It uses its LEDA platform – Logistics Enterprise Data Application – to collate global data sources from the shipping industry to keep track of goods all over the world.