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White Logistics, one of the UK’s leading providers of logistics, warehouse and storage solutions opened its doors to design experts back in 2010 and has never looked back. The family run business, based in Worcestershire has more than doubled its turnover since 2010 from £5million a year to £10million.
In 2010, the company took part in the Design Council's Designing Demand programme which supported more than 5,000 businesses between 2005 and 2015 to explore design for business growth.
Former White Logistics CEO Judith Stracey, who headed up the business at the time, was initially sceptical about how design could help her transport business. After rejecting the programme initially, she welcomed design experts into the business in 2010 and credits much of its success to a strategic service and brand redesign with support from Design Council.
Judith said: “I didn’t think design was relevant to us – we are a transport business. I couldn’t see how design affected us further than what our vehicles looked like, but a Design Associate came to see us and when they started to talk about design, we realised that design could help us improve systems and procedures and bring us commercial benefits”.
Like many businesses at the time, White Logistics were at a crossroads. Two years earlier they had to make redundancies as the recession began to bite. Judith said: “We knew that to survive and thrive we had to stand out from the crowd. We didn’t know how to get our message out and we needed to look different to everyone else. It was a leap of faith, and I’m so glad we took it. We had to come out of the recession thriving – not struggling, so we were open to this opportunity to change”.
Design Associates spent time at White Logistics, immersing themselves into the business, getting to know staff and observing how they work as part of a strategic design review process. Within four weeks, the board had a formal paper presented to them setting out their recommendations for improving the business through design. Judith said: “They helped with vision and strategy – a Design Associate took the board away for half a day from the business and helped us clarify our views on where we wanted to be as individuals and a business into the future. Following this we worked with agencies to redesign our service and rebrand the business. This entire process made us look at how we could improve our internal systems and involve everyone in the process: from our drivers to our customers”
Reaching the £10million turnover mark last year was a big milestone for the business. Judith decided it was time to retire and hand over the reigns to her two sons who are now leading the business towards its next milestone. Design has played an important role in the growth of White Logistics. Although they can’t say for sure whether Designing Demand was the reason for their success in recent years, Judith feels it had an impact. “It’s hard to put our success down to the programme alone but it certainly contributed or expedited our growth. Turnover has doubled from £5m to £10m. We have expanded and moved to a new site and we have found it easier to attract customers to our business. I am convinced the rebrand helped us to establish us as leaders within the market and the programme changed our culture – that I have no doubt about”.
She continued: “We didn’t think we were the type of company that could benefit from design or design thinking but we were wrong. Design Council told us it would suit us and our business. We have not looked back”.