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RETAIL ENVIRONMENT

Lost in transit

Retailers are resorting to more direct action to recover millions of pounds worth of logistics assets by engaging a repossession service to repatriate lost or stolen totes and cages and put a halt to the practice of high street and FMCG businesses inadvertently funding other companies’ supply chains.

The problem impacts all supply chains where assets used for moving products from the distribution centres (DCs) to stores are left, lost, end up in a competitor’s delivery process or are simply stolen.

And the problem is not restricted to retail, with the NHS and food distributors spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on cages and totes every year, a large percentage of which is to replace stolen or lost equipment, which businesses are now recognising as valuable capital that could be spent elsewhere.

Acqsys (pronounced axis), the largest transit asset recovery business in the UK which works with the NHS, food service businesses and retail supply chains, takes a proactive approach to recovery including invoking repossession (repo) powers when repatriating totes and cages where ownership is brought into question.

The business starts its relationship by carrying out an audit of the customer’s supply chain and materials handling stock to detect the losses and then going after those missing assets. For one major supermarket, Acqsys has saved over £1 million by successfully repatriating the stock and auditing its supplier base.

Started in 2012, Acqsys was formed by Bill Howie and Graham Williams in response to a wish to improve asset retention for clients and to reduce the environmental impact of continually having to produce new equipment to replace lost and stolen cages and totes.

“We are a Repo business in that we investigate and return assets to our customers, a business model that has grown out of the fact that so many cages and totes go missing every year,” said Acqsys chairman Bill Howie.

“There are those that are simply mixed up with other company’s supply chain assets in the general melee of activity during deliveries or it could be that some businesses are simply funding other people’s supply chains.”

Many retailers are turning to the service after seeing their own totes and cages offered at reduced prices on auction websites and social media platforms.

To purchase new cages, the price ranges from £70 to £200 each time.

“Unfortunately, the supply chain is so open, assets are incredibly difficult to keep track of which is why we are also adopting tracking technology to generate intelligence to aid recovery,” said Bill.

Users of the service pay a fee for the return of their assets, but Acqsys has also launched Roll Cage Rental, a business providing assets for any company employing roll cages, the rental for which will be returned to the retailer if they are lost and subsequently repatriated.

“For many businesses the loss rate has simply gone through the roof and at a time when these assets are precious in light of businesses having to stock up. I know of one business that has had to buy 5,000 new cages especially for Brexit.”

The business uses trained former military and police personnel to recover the goods by carrying a letter of authority from the customer business and invoking the law regarding interference with goods.

“This works 99 per cent of the time when we are claiming assets back. The other one per cent is the interesting bit,” added Bill.

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