Europa was established in 1966 when it opened up above a bookmakers in the East End of London. The owner, Adrian Chambers, was a professional racing car driver who found it hard to find a company who would ship cars and parts between the UK and Italy. At that time, there were no motorways across France and Italy, no roll-on-roll off ferries which meant trucks had to be craned on as deck cargo at Southampton.
Some 47 years later, the business was acquired by Andrew Baxter in 2013 when it employed 460 people and had a turnover of GBP 76 million (EUR 90 million). The new owner undertook a two-year restructuring programme which included setting up four dedicated divisions – Road, Warehouse, Air & Sea and Showfreight. The company’s turnover is set to push through the GPB 100 million (EUR 117,5 Mio. Million) turnover by the end of the year 2017.
Europa, which remains independently owned, was established before the UK joined the Single Market, and boss Andrew Baxter, who was a keen advocate of leaving the EU, believes the company now is in the best shape in its 50-year history. He believes it is in a strong position to take advantage of Brexit and other trading opportunities thanks to major investment and restructuring since he acquired the business in 2013.
The GBP 30million hub facility in Dartford and the company’s GBP 1.7million IT programme are just two capital investments which have significantly put Europa on the road for greater success. The target is to be the market leader for the distribution of goods between the UK and Europe by 2018.
Andrew Baxter says: “Our business model has created long term stability for the company. We have had to swallow some bitter pills to restructure the business but these changes were necessary to secure its future growth. Our focus now is on greater profitability and expansion. That will be through organic growth and we will consider suitable acquisitions in the medium to long term if they strategically fit with our ambitions.”
Brexit is an issue which Andrew Baxter believes is a great opportunity for the business and also the industry. He says: “At a time when many businesses are inward looking and retrenching after the EU referendum, we will embrace the opportunities. We are a vital component in the supply chain of many businesses in the UK and abroad and it’s important we continue to work hard on behalf of our customers to make their operations more successful.”