New vehicle helps Norwich freight firm motor forward

Executive Director Charles Brient on the left and General Manager Andy Crook Executive Director Charles Brient on the left and General Manager Andy Crook

Wednesday, March 19, 2014
8:00 AM

A Norwich Airport-based freight company has taken delivery of the first Mercedes Benz Antos truck to be brought into the country by Orwell Trucks.

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The leased vehicle will be used on Regional Freight Services’ daily airfreight bonded truck service between Norwich International Airport and Heathrow.

The 16-tonne-capacity truck represents the very latest in technology and company founder and chairman Chris Brient stressed that investment had been one of the keys to their steady growth.

Selling his house to launch the business 32 years ago with the help of two staff, he has grown Regional Freight Services to a company with a £6m turnover and employing 32 staff today.

As well as its Norfolk headquarters, the company has also opened bases at Heathrow and Bristol as its business has spread beyond East Anglia.

Mr Brient said: “At the time we started, local companies importing goods were being hindered by a log-jam at Heathrow; it could take two days to get customs clearance.

“I unblocked that log-jam by removing goods under bond and transporting them to Norwich Airport for customs clearance.”

Regional Freight Services now provided a worldwide door-to-door delivery service for companies across the UK, handling both imports and exports.

Working in partnership with a major Chinese firm in the Far East, goods could be delivered from China through Heathrow to a UK firm in a matter of 48 hours; goods from the US could arrive overnight.

“Speed is critical as it is a highly competitive market,” said Mr Brient.

As well as the Heathrow truck service, taking exports down to London and bringing imported goods back from the airport. the company also handles freight brought in and out of container ports such as Southampton and Liverpool; a weekly ocean freight service is operated from Chicago and the US Midwest to Norwich.

The company operates the bonded warehouse at Norwich airport and imported cargo is processed through customs using a state-of-the-art computer system linked directly to Customs authorities.

Regional has just completed a five year project to export 2,500 electric cars from Norfolk to the USA, Far East and Europe on behalf of Tesla Motors.

Mr Brient said the goods they handled were “a broad mixture, from Start-rite shoes to gear boxes”.

He put down Regional’s success to “consistently high service levels, investment in technology and a highly trained, efficient and stable staff base”.

He said: “There are several staff members who have been with the company over 20 years and I have seen them all develop their skills through training in aviation security, dangerous goods movements and other trade-related courses.”

Mr Brient said levels of air freight fell through the economic downturn but there were now signs of improvement.

He said: “As a company we can see growth coming, partly through our links with the energy industry in Great Yarmouth.”

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