Today we unveiled our new brand along with a new global web site. It signals the commitment from Ligentia to deliver ‘Next Generation Freight’ via technology enabled solutions. The brand has been re-mastered to represent the positive move towards global diversity and an open business model that further places customers at the heart of the business.

This bold move goes hand in hand with our clear and differentiated proposition to supply chain customers under the banner; Ligentia ‘Enterprise’ and a globally accessible next generation freight forwarding service named; Ligentia ‘Plus’.  All customers will continue to benefit from a leading system in Ligentix that connects the entire supply chain in one seamless platform.

Our customers are already seeing benefits in the way we connect technology and people to deliver a high-quality experience. Ligentix has been transformed with unique digital customer service tools as well as advanced business intelligence and data analytics. Customers can now connect with our global experts 24/7/365 in any way they chose.

Daniel Gill, Chief Customer Officer explains: ‘Digital transformation is on the strategic agenda for each and every one of the organisations we serve. Ligentia is on a similar journey, digitising processes to increase efficiency and applying AI and Machine Learning technologies to add significant value to customers. Our passion is to make it easier and more commercially advantageous to do business with Ligentia. This has already started, but our customers can expect a rolling programme of tech innovation in the months ahead.’

As part of our Customer Transport Emission Mitigation Initiative, our Sea-Air Service is 50% greener than standard air freight.

You can’t fail to see the world uniting to tackle the challenge of climate change.  We are playing our part with our Sea-Air product which gives our customers a swift solution to pressing freight requirements, whilst also reducing the impact of the carbon emissions involved.

Climate change and the green debate frequently dominate international headlines. At a macro level, governments are playing their part with legislation such as The Paris Agreement.  At a micro-level, consumers are exercising their power to choose buy buying more eco-friendly products, changing their usage behaviours and committing to recycling.  But here at Ligentia, we also recognise that our industry has a part to play in the middle – helping manufacturers and retailers to meet their business imperatives, serve their customers and make better choices for the planet.

Working with key partners, we’re combining optimum sea freight and air freight legs within global supply chains in ways that cut time, cost and CO2 emissions by up to 50%.  What’s more, we’re doing the hard work to monitor and measure against these targets – which means that customers are equipped to play their role in raising emission awareness with their consumers, their shareholders, their partners and their employees.

Our expert team are now able to give our customers carbon forecasts up front – at the point where different shipping options are being evaluated. Then we are able to close the loop by providing reports to record progress made, and offer an annual summary of what has been achieved. Being armed with this kind of data and insight, helps customers to develop year-on-year action plans to optimise cost, CO2 and time savings.

In summary, our CUT carbon reports help customers to identify areas of high-impact and low hanging fruit to help them be better eco-citizens.  This emission mitigation initiative is part of a broader commitment to play our part in revolutionising our sector and its corporate social responsibility contributions.  We’re calling it next generation freight.

David Ross is the UK MD for Ligentia Plus – the newly launched global freight forwarding service from Ligentia. We catch up with David to get insights on how the ‘Plus’ proposition is benefitting customers across the UK and how the service is set to develop in the future.

You joined Ligentia in December last year, what were your first impressions?

I joined Ligentia as part of the Air & Cargo Services acquisition by Ligentia in December 2018.  I knew the company by its reputation as a technology-focused, financially strong provider of 3 and 4PL services to big-brand retailers.  It was immediately apparent to me that both the businesses had strong commonalities in the quality of their people and the total commitment to delivering outstanding customer service. And the acquired business offered a perfect complement to Ligentia’s strengths, with deep technical expertise and a really well-developed freight forwarding proposition, plus a UK-wide branch network.

How does Ligentia Plus tick the boxes?

Lots of the businesses in our industry are London-centric. And in the drive to embrace technology, they are becoming transactional in the way they serve customers.  Ligentia Plus is different on two levels.  Firstly, we’ve got a UK-wide branch network, underpinned by a global community of delivery partners.  It means we’re able to connect locally, whilst supporting customers to trade globally.  Secondly, sure we’re embracing technology – in order to make it as simple and efficient for customers to do business with us.  But unlike many of our competitors, we’re not doing that at the expense of genuine care and customer service.  In a complex business like supply chain and logistics, expertise and problem solving capability sits squarely with dedicated and experienced team members delivering a professional and hands-on service, day-in, day out.  My team is committed to building the kind of partnerships with customers that make a world of difference in getting the job done well.

What are the other ‘pluses’ customers will experience?

Our web tracker technology gives customers eyes on their goods, from the moment they book, until the goods are delivered – so they’re always in the know. It’s light, agile, easy to use.  This is being supplemented by our on-line customer support portal – so if a customer has a query at any point, they can get in touch with us via any number of channels – email, text, on-line, WhatsApp – and get a swift resolution in a way that is completely convenient to them.  For many of our customers, they simply want a partner that will take the burden of shipping and logistics off their plate, and our team can do exactly that.  Whatever their requirement, large or small, simple and straightforward or unusual and complex, my team has the experience to make it happen.  And beyond the business of getting the goods from A to B there’s a whole suite of value added services that can be bolted on. From customs clearance and warehousing, to consolidation and retail-ready pick and pack services…all a customer has to do is ask, we’ll take care of the rest.

What else do customers need to know?

Ligentia Plus is unbeatable for customers wanting the smartest freight forwarding service on the market.  We are fully multi-modal. We are global, not just Far-East to UK. Our growing buying power means customers are benefitting from our procurement strength and expertise.  We cover the whole of the UK, so customers are talking to people that are close-at-hand and clued-up about regional markets. We have genuine expertise in almost any vertical market you can mention, so we can bring deep knowledge to bear on even the most challenging shipments.  Plus we’ve got the technology layer to make it simple and straight forward, giving customers the control and visibility they need to run their operations with complete confidence.  Ligentia Plus has been built with today’s freight forwarding customers in mind.  We really can take care of everything, simply and effectively.

So what does the future hold?

As the most capable and technically sound freight forwarding proposition in the UK, Ligentia Plus is set to grow from strength to strength.  Spanning all vertical markets, we’re also developing a buoyant business in UK exports.  For example, here in Scotland, we’re applying our expertise to help Whisky and Salmon exporters reach global customer bases with ease.  The same applies to any customer in any region.  All they need to do is get in touch and we will connect them to experts in their local branch team, who will in turn plug them into the power of our global community of colleagues and partners.  With Plus delivering value to freight forwarding customers and Enterprise catering to the requirement of more complex supply chain management customers, Ligentia is set to be absolutely unbeatable.

Here at Ligentia Enterprise, we’re busy rolling out a new, customer success platform that is defining next generation service for the brands and businesses we support.

The project has successfully completed phase one of roll-out and has been fully implemented with five customers, with a further five happening now and a goal of having all Enterprise customers enjoying a new level of technology enabled service, by the end of the year.

For each customer this means that all email correspondence will be directed to a single, account-specific email address.  All email requests and queries are then served, not to a single Ligentia contact, but to a global team, including key account managers at both origin and destination.  What this means is that customer success now ‘follows the sun’. Requests can be actioned by the most appropriate team member within the shortest possible time, rather than waiting in colleague’s in-boxes during out of hours periods.

All requests are centrally stored, tracked and visible both to Ligentia and to the customer, giving all-eyes-on the issue and resolution. What’s more, over time, this ‘knowledge hub’ grows and becomes a source of intelligence that can then be applied to improve and expedite customer success across the board.

For example, the system will track the most frequently asked questions, which are then captured and offered to customers on a self-serve basis, for immediate help and support.  Where there are repeated tickets raised for specific supply chain issues, the system flags this to the Ligentia team for a fast, high-impact solution.

But the system isn’t just supporting customers in the day-to-day operations, it also provides bigger picture information and value.  Within their login areas, customers will find full information regarding their team, the contract, SLAs and regularly generated reports.  Plus there are discussion threads and chats that customers can join that will keep them up to date with the latest market trends and trade lane insights.  Essentially, everything that the customer needs is centrally available in one, easy-to-access place and working seamlessly within our proprietary supply chain management software, Ligentix.

Anthony Plummer, the Managing Director for Ligentia Enterprise in the UK explains how the system is transforming customer success: ‘The new platform is a genuine game changer for Ligentia, reducing response times, streamlining processes and ensuring that the maximum intelligence is derived from each and every interaction we have with our customers. It puts information at their finger-tips, builds a robust knowledge base and empowers customers to connect with our business on their terms.’

The new system is truly multi-channel, so customers can connect via We Chat, WhatsApp and messenger rather than email.  All the data flows to the same place, for the same speedy turnaround, by the most appropriate team resource, wherever in the world that may be.

Anthony elaborates: ‘By reducing the amount of manual processing involved in delivering customer support and by giving everyone a clear view on the status of every query or ticket, the system massively reduces pressure on our customers’ inboxes.  For our teams, it’s simultaneously freeing up time for the solution building and expert problem solving that create the most value and advantage for our customers.’

Doug Brady recently joined Ligentia as Chief Technology Officer. Based in the brand-new, world-leading technology research, talent and innovation centre: Nexus in Leeds, Doug is busy building the team that is set to take tech in our industry to the next level.  We caught up with Doug, now three months into his role, to understand how plans are unfolding.

Why did the Global Director of Technology role at Ligentia appeal to you?

My passion is creating technology that directly drives tangible business benefit.  It was my focus in my previous role at Direct Line Insurance, where we used robotic process automation to take onerous work out of operating processes to achieve efficiency, cost savings and free up resources to focus on value creation.  My initial thoughts were that Supply Chain and Logistics offers huge opportunities for similar transformation and that Ligentia, with a strong track record of investment in proprietary technology and a genuine appetite for innovation, were perfectly positioned to lead the industry. This is a sector that has been slow to fully adopt the full potential of technology to achieve operational and strategic transformation – but for me there are clearly big competitive advantages to be won. So my role and focus is to put Ligentia right at the front of that transformation.

What are the plans for the team at Nexus?

From a tech perspective, my role offers a greenfield opportunity.  I’m building a team from the ground up – but we couldn’t be in a better place to do the development.  Nexus is an outstanding facility and Leeds is a great location for top-class tech talent, so I’m running a three month recruitment program to assemble a full development team who can apply themselves to our challenge with rigor and attention to detail. But beyond that I’m looking for people who are lateral thinkers…people who are prepared to break the rules to create outstanding solutions.  These are people that are going to hit the ground running, so that in 2020 Ligentia’s in-house team at Nexus will be leading the charge on technology transformation for our business and our industry.

Where is your first focus on the journey ahead?

We will be running two workstreams in tandem.  The first is to deliver high-impact improvement in Ligentia’s operational technology.  We’re building from an excellent foundation, with the cornerstones in place – but our focus will be on driving big business benefits, by ensuring all our tech is integrated, harmonised and providing genuine support to people within the business. The goal is to free-up our talented teams to focus on the most interesting and challenging parts of their roles – the parts that most significantly add value for the customer.  The second workstream is enabled by the first, by freeing up resource and enhancing profitability through automation and efficiency, we’ll be looking to capitalise on the potential of our core customer technology to create scalable technology that empowers next generation freight customers.

How do you feel about the opportunities technology will create for the business and its customers?

Ligentia already has outstanding IP in technology. My job is to make sure we leverage that IP to serve our current customers better and create unbeatable propositions for more customers to join the movement and work with our talented teams.  It’s an ambitious plan and roadmap – but I know that Ligentia has the passion, vision and commitment to make our vision a reality – so I’m feeling confident about the opportunities ahead.

For those monitoring the impact of a no deal Brexit the publication released earlier this year by the government highlighting details of the UK’s temporary tariff regime, is a must read.

Designed to minimise costs to business and consumers the tariffs will protect vulnerable industries, however the regime is temporary with up to 12 months application whilst reviewing a permanent approach.

What do you need to know?

British businesses would not pay customs duties on the majority of goods when importing into the UK if we leave the European Union without an agreement.

Under the temporary tariff, 87% of total imports to the UK by value would be eligible for tariff free access.

Tariffs would still apply to 13% of goods imported into the UK. This includes:

  • a mixture of tariffs and quotas on beef, lamb, pork, poultry and some dairy to support farmers and producers who have historically been protected through high EU tariffs
  • retaining a number of tariffs on finished vehicles in order to support the automotive sector and in light of broader challenging market conditions. However, car makers relying on EU supply chains would not face additional tariffs on car parts imported from the EU to prevent disruption to supply chains
  • in addition, there are a number of sectors where tariffs help provide support for UK producers against unfair global trading practices, such as dumping and state subsidies. Tariffs would be retained for these products, including certain ceramics, fertiliser and bioethanol
  • to meet our long-standing commitment to reduce poverty through trade, the government currently offers preferential access to the UK market for developing countries. To ensure that access for developing countries is maintained, we would retain tariffs on a set of goods, including bananas, raw cane sugar, and certain kinds of fish

More information on the government website can be found here.

The government has published a series of 106 technical notices setting out information that allows businesses to understand what they would need to do in a no deal scenario so they can make informed plans and mitigate risk.

If there’s a no deal

The UK will continue to have a VAT system after it leaves the EU. The VAT rules relating to UK domestic transactions will continue to apply to businesses as they do now. If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the government’s aim will be to keep VAT procedures as close as possible to what they are now. This will provide continuity and certainty for businesses. However, if the UK leaves the EU with no agreement, then there will be some specific changes to the VAT rules and procedures that apply to transactions between the UK and EU member states.

Accounting for import VAT on goods imported into the UK

If the UK leaves the EU without an agreement, the government will introduce postponed accounting for import VAT on goods brought into the UK. This means that UK VAT registered businesses importing goods to the UK will be able to account for import VAT on their VAT return, rather than paying import VAT on or soon after the time that the goods arrive at the UK border. This will apply both to imports from the EU and non-EU countries.

For more information visit the government website

Last week IATA released their May 2019 Air Freight Analysis report, stating in seasonal adjusted terms the level of freight tonne kilometres (FTK’s) ticked up modestly for the third consecutive month, suggesting we may be past the low point of this cycle, although the recovery remains tentative at this stage.

The weakness in freight volumes compared with a year ago remains broad-based. As was the case in April, Africa and Latin America contributed positively to industry-wide- on-year- FTK growth result.

From the recent G20 talks it appears that US-China trade relations have thawed somewhat and negotiations will recommence shortly.

This follows the end-June announcement of President Trump cancelling the planned 25% tariff on an additional $300bn worth of Chinese goods.

Airlines have responded to the period of weakness in freight demand partly through reducing capacity in the market. Growth in available freight tonne kilometres (AFTK’s) slowed to just 1.3% in May 2019 compared to May 2018.

While this represents a relatively modest increase, the growth of supply is still around 5 percent points higher than that of demand growth. Consequently, the industry-wide freight load factor maintained the downward trend seen in the last 13 months, and is currently a substantial 2.3% points below its level a year ago.

Asia Pacific & Middle East

Amidst the implementation of a new round of tariffs on US-China trade in mid-May, international FTK’s flown by airlines based in Asia Pacific fell by around 7% year-on-year in May, after a revised 11% decrease in April.

The effect of the US-China trade war has clearly had an impact on the regional growth in Asia Pacific. This is despite evidence suggesting that production lines had shifted within the region to try to counter the adverse effects of the rising trade tensions between China and the US.

North America

North America has seen the weakest outcome since early 2016, with international freight volumes deteriorate by 3.2% year-on-year.

Latin America

After three consecutive months of international freight growth, Latin America returned to negative year-on-year growth in May. International FTK’s are currently 0.5% below their level of May 2018.

Europe

International FTK’s for the European carrier are currently unchanged from their year –ago level. This represents a substantial improvement from an annual decline of 6.7% last month.

Africa

Airlines in the smaller Africa international market posted a swift 8.3% growth compared to the same period last year, making Africa the strongest performer on that measure for the 3rd consecutive month.

BUT we can continue talking about what we do know if we leave the EU with a ‘no deal’.

Zero Import DUTY
HMRC has announced a Zero Import DUTY will be payable for the first 12 months when importing from Europe only.

VAT Deferred Scheme
The government will introduce postponed accounting for import VAT on goods brought into the UK. This means that UK VAT registered businesses importing goods to the UK will be able to account for import VAT on their VAT return, rather than paying import VAT on or soon after the time that the goods arrive at the UK border. This will apply to imports from the EU and non-EU countries.

Transitional Simplified Procedures (TSP)
HMRC has written to 145,000 VAT-registered businesses trading with the EU to inform them of the simplified procedures. The letter advises that once registered for TSP, businesses will be able to transport goods from the EU into the UK without having to make a full customs declaration at the border. Businesses will also be able to postpone paying any import duties until the month after import.

The TSP policy will be reviewed 3 to 6 months after its introduction with at least 12 months notice being given to businesses before its withdrawal.

The new procedures reduce the amount of information importers are required to provide in an import declaration by allowing importers to:

  • Defer giving a full declaration until after the goods have crossed the border; and
  • Defer paying any duty until the month following importation

Where tariffs apply to the imported goods, TSP registered businesses will be required to set up a direct debit to defer the payment of any import duties. You will need an EORI number to register.

EORI Number
If you import from outside the EU then you will already have an EORI number, however if you are trading with Europe and do not have an EORI you will need one after Brexit and should apply now. Application is free and quick to complete.

For further information on the above please contact your designated account manager.