First 4 Logistics: Generations of championing local SMEs

By APC Overnight on 15th February 2024

For First 4 Logistics founders Chris Aldridge and Tom Flood, logistics has always been in their blood.

“Our fathers both had local delivery franchises, so parcel services are naturally our professional background,” Chris explained, “But we also understood the importance of good local service and supporting other local businesses from day one. For us, in establishing First 4 Logistics we wanted to support local businesses on their journey to growth, and grow and evolve our own business in the process.”

The pair, who had grown up understanding the intricacies and challenges of franchised logistics firms, decided to establish First 4 Logistics as an independent delivery depot in Newhaven in October 2018. But with their drive to support and help their customers grow and evolve, The APC’s national network offer ‘made perfect sense’ to Chris and Tom. Since joining the 100+ strong nationwide APC network, First 4 Logistics quickly grew to become one of the top growth depots within the network.

The firm’s natural growth was accelerated by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic with the inevitable boom in home deliveries due to lockdowns and restrictions. In late 2020, the business opened a new operational parcel depot at Beach Road, Newhaven to meet the growing demand for its services, spurred by the continued surge in online shopping across Brighton and East Sussex.

In 2022, the firm acquired two new depots in Southampton and the Isle of Wight, enabling it to expand its overnight, sameday and international parcel collection and delivery service offering, as well as its pallet services and storage facilities, to SMEs across the south.

Now, the firm continues to experience consistent and stable growth in the food, alcohol and clothing sectors, working with a range of SMEs across the south coast that often have a strong national foothold within their own sectors.

Chris shared his insights on the key elements that have contributed to First 4 Logistics’ success and what the future holds.


Local services for local businesses

The importance of maintaining a genuinely local and personalised service has always been understood by First 4 Logistics.

Chris explained: “A massive part of our success is undoubtedly down to the local element of our service and the depot-to-depot contact we have.”

Since launching, First 4 Logistics has continued this commitment to local service, ensuring consistent drivers on routes as well as creating bespoke customer services and proactive account management. “Working closely with customers to identify and address their main pain points allows us to give the best level of service,” Chris said.

The business is also committed to establishing meaningful relationships with existing customers through regular contact and site visits. Chris continued: “We encourage customers to come and see us as well. So they can see where we are, who we are and what we do.”


Meeting the needs of south coast SMEs

The unwavering and expertise-driven growth mindset of the founders has enabled First 4 Logistics to expand rapidly over the past five years and increase its offering.

The firm, which began as an APC overnight service, has grown to offer a range of services to the SME community across the south coast. Offering overnight, same-day, storage and international services, First 4 Logistics has been able to offer its customers a single point of contact for their evolving delivery needs.

For local businesses, it’s been a game-changer. Chris explained: “All of a sudden they've gone from maybe three suppliers - three separate points of contact - to having the ability to pool all of their services in one place.”

One such example is a local lighting business who has, over time, become a loyal First 4 Logistics customer for all of its delivery needs. Initially using First 4 Logistics for its APC overnight service, the lighting business gradually started using additional services that the firm had to offer.

“Following their experience of the APC overnight service, the business gave us their pallet work last year, as well as their same-day work,” said Chris. “The trust came with The APC service ultimately. Offering those additional services has allowed us to go and build on what we do with The APC and add additional value.”


Looking ahead together

The success of the business, which Chris largely attributes to the region’s thriving SME community, will only continue to grow as local businesses expand their own offerings and cater increasingly to an online customer base.

In the last 6-12 months, the business has seen growth in the food, alcohol and clothing sectors, and this is only set to grow further. Chris concluded: “It's been a fantastic last few months, I can't complain at all. Everyone's really stepped up and has seen the benefits of a stable and reliable service, which gives SMEs the ability to go, sell and grow.”

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