What areas of logistics do you specialise in?
We’re the Polish subsidiary of Ipsen Logistics group, a worldwide company. We specialise in sea and air logistics, but we do a lot of road logistics too. In Poland we have seven departments. Our offices in Gdansk, Lublin and Szczecin specialise in sea cargo; Kraków and Warsaw deal with air logistics, and Kraków, Lublin, Tomaszów Lubelski and Augustów deal with road logistics.
How important is the UK as a trading partner for Poland?
According to Poland’s national statistics office, GUS, the UK is one of Poland’s Top 10 partners in terms of bilateral trade in goods. Last year, we exported to the UK goods worth over €12.1 billion, making it our second-largest export market after Germany. At the same time, Poland imported from UK goods worth €4.7 billion. This means Poland has a trade surplus of nearly €7.5 billion with the UK. Hundreds of thousands of Poles live in the UK form an important springboard from which to jump into a wider market of 64 million consumers. And tens of thousands of Poles in the UK are entrepreneurs who’ve set up businesses there – a significant part of whom work are importers, distributors or agents for Polish-made products.
Which mode of transport dominates trade between Poland and the UK? Which one is most efficient, and which one is safest?
The prime mean of transport of goods within the EU is by road. But when it comes to global trade, sea routes dominate.. Between Poland and the UK, the relation between price and delivery time is best on wheels. Door-to-door transit times for road and air logistics are nearly the same, but the costs of road logistics are sometimes three times lower than for air.
Cost-effectiveness is always very important in business. I teach our clients the ‘two out of three’ rule. In logistics we have three criteria - Cheap, Quick and Good. The customer can choose only two out of the three. ‘Quick and good’ will not be cheap, while ‘cheap and good’ needs more time. Some of our best customers ask for the fastest possible times. We call it hand-care. If a production line breaks down at a factory located on the other side of the world and parts must be delivered within a day or two, we take this parcel as hand-care luggage. We find the shortest possible connection with the country we need to deliver the parcel. Our employee flies with the goods to deliver it to the airport or directly to the company. If the production line generates hundreds of thousand of euros or dollars a day, the cost of that kind of service is very acceptable.
What’s the relation between export and import?
Poland has become an important exporter for Europe. Last year, for the first time ever, Poland sold more goods abroad than it imported, generating a balance of trade surplus. Looking at trade statistics for the first two months of this year, we can see that this trend is strengthening, and Poland looks likely to be increasing its trade surplus with the rest of the world.
Do changes in Europe’s geopolitical situation in Europe influence the logistics?
The current geopolitical situation affects all kinds of transports in many aspects. The European media focus on the situation in Belgium, France, Greece and the UK, but the most important problem lies to the east. Trade relations with Russia are currently the worst since the breakup of the USSR. Since the beginning of this year, the number of permits granted for Polish trucks entering Russia has been dramatically cut. This situation is not good for any side.
The refugee/migrant crisis affects road logistics in western Europe too. Trucks headed for the UK at the entrance of the Euro-Tunnel and the port of Calais are targeted by illegal immigrants trying to smuggle themselves across the English Channel. Logistics companies lose money and time on repairing the trucks after the damage caused by the immigrants, who break into trucks. Goods are damaged. Trucks are impounded. Using a good logistics provider which trains its drivers is an answer.
In my opinion, the current geopolitical situation is threatens several years of rising international trading business and new business opportunities.
The transport of food and perishable goods is particularly important for Poland, as this is a major export category for our country. What are the restrictions for the food transportation?
The transport of perishable goods like food and medicine is more tightly regulated than other categories of logistics. Goods need to be certificated with the relevant documents which declare that the food was tested and is safe for human consumption. Perishable goods like cheese, fruit, meat etc. need to be transported in refrigerators or freezers. The goods from one shipper are usually put on a single truck with no consolidation after shipping. Logistics operators must have ATP certificates for such transports to ensure that the goods are transported in clean and safe trucks.
What are the main aspects when choosing the logistics operator?
It all depends on the needs of the shipper and consignee. Some of our customers need warehouses that offer co-packing options and quick customs clearance. Our customs department has to prepare carnets with all the documents needed for the timely release of goods. Other customers only need us to move the goods from one place to another.
A very important element of logistics is the cargo insurance for the company, trucks and goods. I have come across companies that tried to save some money on this aspect of transport. Everything’s fine till an accident happens. Then the consignee needs to be able to get back the money that was invested in the goods. Due to the current geopolitical situation in Europe, good insurance is a ‘must have’ element. Before you choose the lowest possible price on the market for your transport, it’s worth checking other users’ opinions about a given logistics operator to know how they evaluate the quality and flexibility of its service.
How does the logistics process work when exporting to the UK? What documents are needed? What payment conditions must be met? How should the cargo be prepared for transport?
When we begin talking to Polish companies that are just starting to export their goods to the UK, we need their authorisation stating that we have been chosen to take care of their goods. We will also need copies of the company documents like NIP, KRS, and REGON. After checking the company in the KRS system, we can start making enquiries on its behalf. If the price is right and there’s free space on the trucks, we can fulfil the logistics order which states who is the owner of the goods, what are the conditions of the delivery- time, and date of loading and unloading. This order says also what the payment conditions are. Whenever we start doing business with a new customer, we need to check one another out to see if the cooperation will work; full prepayment is a good sign. After two or three transactions if both parties are satisfied with the cooperation, we can give longer terms of payment, even up to 21 days.
I love customers who plan their deliveries three or four weeks ahead. It gives us more options to find the best solutions to deliver the goods in a single deliver and just on time. The customer will also have time to prepare the pallets and secure the goods. Euro pallets are the best option to carry the goods. They are easy to move and easy to be located on the truck. The pallets make the cargo more stable during the transport, and save the goods from damage.