There are peak times in the fashion industry, mainly from January to March and from mid-June to September, when Belspeed’s employees are out and about to get the latest fashion to the market.
However, even in all other months logistics traffic is high. Every day, hanging or flat-packed, picked and packed or full bulk shipments arrive at the company’s central warehouse complex in Kruishoutem. By next year, the company’s storage facilities will cover an area of 120,000 m2, in tune with the growing demand for customized logistics from the large players in the fashion and lifestyle industries.
“In autumn 2013, the influential Vogue editor Anna Wintour pushed designers to get their collections to the shop floors earlier than in other years. We were able to take on the challenge … and we succeeded, I daresay,” points out CEO John Milliau who took over as CEO in September 2010.
When Belspeed was looking for a new management in 2010, following the retirement of the old management board, Mr. Milliau took over the logistics company together with two partners. So today, Belspeed is under the management of CEO Johan Milliau, Chief Operational Officer Steven Rymenans and Chief Sales Officer Philippe Desmedt.
“All three of us are extremely customer-oriented. We are proud to have highly satisfied customers who are still growing in the market. This year alone, we have been able to realize a 30% growth.”
Belspeed has established as top-notch one-stop shop in logistics, offering full supply chain services, straight from the manufacturer in Asia, North America or Turkey, up to final delivery to the shop or to the end consumer.
“We are there to manage transport, storage and distribution to customers, both retail customers and consumers,” points out Mr. Milliau. “We also take on customer services, account management, import and IT.“
Logistics services take center stage when it comes to warehouse handling. “Customers entrust us with their logistics, including unloading of goods, examination on accuracy of delivery, labelling, storing, picking, preparing for shipping, quality control, gift wrapping and many other small logistics-related tasks. We are there to assist all logistics processes,” says Mr. Milliau.
Today, Belspeed focuses on its omni-presence in different distribution channels. While, traditionally, the retail and wholesale sectors have been dominating the company’s activities, e-commerce has emerged recently and has been experiencing a very fast growth.
“End consumers order an article on our customer’s website. And we transport it to them in a personalised way. Today, about 30% of our turnover derives from e-commerce activities,” adds Mr. Milliau. Due to its focus on fashion and lifestyle, Belspeed can tune in to the successful players in these segments.
“Time and again, you have to provide good services, you have to deliver in time and manage the entire flow in the shops as well,” stresses Mr. Milliau. “Every shop has to be restocked, in particular after peaks in sales. On the contrary, e-commerce shops are open 24/7. Just yesterday, we broke all records in e-commerce. At the moment, customers in 27 countries order the brands we serve in logistics. We serve our brands in all of Europe and manage the entire flow.”
Today, Belspeed employs a workforce of 330 people, but prospects are that the number will amount to 350 to 400 people by 2014. Likewise, the company’s turnover will also boost in 2014 with figures going up from 25 million this year to an estimated 35 million EUR in the coming year.
“We offer inside depth and knowledge of the market, and we are genuinely interested in fashion and lifestyle. This commitment pays off and attracts new brands that choose us as their new logistics partner,” points out Mr. Milliau. “It is crucial to keep a very personal contact with the brands.”
It might sound odd but one single transport of clothing does often have a higher value than a money transport. “Just image the transport of a new high-end collection from the workshop to its first public presentation at the Fashion Week. These are unique collections and it is unthinkable that you arrive a day after the show,” states Mr. Milliau. “Our customers look deep into our eyes to see if they feel good about letting us handle their precious collections. So far, we have succeeded.”
Belspeed’s export rate has amounted to 90%, with Germany and the United Kingdom being the biggest export markets. Likewise, these two countries are the best evolved in terms of e-commerce trading. In the coming years, the company will continue to keep its services attuned to fashion and lifestyle. In addition to a focus on full supply chain services, e-commerce will continue to be the key topic.
“Our customers tell us that their business will be driven by e-commerce, nothing else,” says Mr. Milliau. Internationalisation will come up as another topic that Belspeed aims to target in a sensible way, setting up seats in others countries outside the EU.