Please provide a company background including when it was established, where it is located, how many staff you employ etc.
With offices in both Hinckley, Leicestershire and Derby, Independent Freight Solutions is an ambitious company providing support and solutions for companies who import and/or export goods. Our company is owned and managed by Jenny and David Hooper, and was established in 2004, Jenny Hooper is on the council of the Institute of Export and is the former chair of the East Midlands British International Freight Association.
Please provide an overview of the products and services offered and areas of specialisation.
Our business provides a range of services to companies who export/import goods, around the world. This includes organising shipments by air, sea and road; however we can also provide support relating to customs clearance, hazardous goods and international documentation. We act as freight management agents for many customers, and liaise with their customers and suppliers to ensure shipments run smoothly.
How did you find out about emita and what benefits do you find the most valuable?
When we signed up to UKTI’s Passport to Export scheme, our trade advisor introduced us to EMITA. Since then several members of our organisation have attended interesting talks and seminars. We then look to disseminate key information to our own customer, which also adds value to our own service.
How long has your company been active in the export / import market and which countries do you currently trade with?
Although our core business is exporting and importing goods for our clients, our own company has been exporting for the last 3 years. Over the last 12 months, we have developed an international strategy in order to ensure we focus our resources, and we now have a 5 year plan to help us internationalise our brand.
What made you decide to expand your business overseas?
Whilst shipping goods for our customers in the UK we started to receive enquiries from overseas customers who wanted to use our services. The types of services they required were of more added value and this made us realise that we should take a more strategic approach to finding overseas customers and exporting our services. We now have clients in nine different countries however, through UKTI we are now looking to target and focus more on key types of businesses in geographical areas who want a UK based logistics provider.
What has been your biggest exporting / importing challenge?
We have found that the biggest challenge in international trade is building a relationship with a customer or supplier in another country. Many countries and cultures place a huge emphasis on building a rapport or relationship with the people they do business with, which can be hard to create by email. We really appreciate the value of face-to-face meetings, but in international business this isn’t always achievable. What is extremely challenging is when your main contact abroad leaves the company.
What’s the most helpful piece of international trade advice you have received?
The most helpful piece of advice has been around developing our online presence, brand and offer to ensure that it is more attractive to overseas businesses. We are now going through a process where we are redeveloping our website, looking at purchasing new domains, translating some of our material and web pages and ensuring that services have a more international focus to them.
What does the future hold? Any particular markets you are looking to target next?
The key markets for us are the Middle East. We already have some presence there but want to take this to the next level with the possibility of establishing an office there in the next 2-3 years.