Euromovers draagt de tartan
Jul 14, 2017
The EUROMOVERS International annual conference took place in Edinburgh between 25-28 May in the midst of an uncharacteristically Scottish heat wave that saw the city sweltering at 28C (almost unheard of in Scotland in May) – until the rain fell, that is.
Around 85 delegates from as far afield at New Zealand, Brazil, Singapore and Thailand, as well as most countries in Europe, came together for what must be one of the most friendly conferences in the moving calendar. Ian Studd, the Director General of the British Association of Removers (BAR), was the keynote speaker and guest of honour.
Steve Jordan, Editor of The Mover, performed the role of master of ceremonies and facilitator. Anne-Sophie Frasseto, who has organised the EUROMOVERS conferences for many years, liaised with the venue to provide the link between the business sessions and the social programme to keep everything running smoothly for the members.
The venue was the Macdonald Holyrood Hotel, close to the centre of the city, next door to the much-maligned Scottish parliament building and just around the corner from Edinburgh’s famous Royal Mile. The venue worked well for a group of that size, the food and service were excellent.
The business programme was over two days and included the essential Annual General Meeting, the Board of Directors' report from the EUROMOVERS President, Denis Zonneveld from Dijkshoorn Euromovers; followed by the general manager’s report from Thomas Juchum. The organisation agreed to change its structure to become a co-operative which, Denis explained, will make it much easier to accept new shareholders as it continues to grow. Two years ago, EUROMOVERS set itself a target to increase its membership by 20 companies in three years: to date there has been a net increase of nine companies, however a number of other organisations have expressed an interest in joining.
In his report, Thomas said that the total number for consignments performed by members has exceeded 50,000 in 2016, almost double that of the previous two years. Of these, 15% had been exchanged between members. 94% of customers had reported the service to be ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ in 2016, a statistic that had remained extraordinarily constant over an extended period. ISS Worldwide Movers in the UAE was the single biggest contributor.
Digital moving, insurance and software
The presentations then moved away from ‘in-house’ business to other industry services. Perhaps most controversial was a presentation by Jarek Brostowicz and Travis Pierce from Move24, a digital removal platform that started in August 2015 and claims to have already facilitated 28,000 moves in Germany, France, Sweden and the UK. Andreas Pfeifer, from HVD-Hamburg insurance brokers took to the stage to present his ideas for ‘bridging the gap’ between differing insurance liabilities when consignments are handled by different companies at origin and destination. Keld Gissemann from European Removal & Storage in Copenhagen, presented new survey and move management software that he and a business partner had developed, primarily for EUROMOVERS members but also to be available on the open market that, he claims brings together key elements of the process into a single package in a way that has not been done before.
Business returned to EUROMOVERS on the first afternoon of the conference with a workshop session organised by Move Consultant Frank Lierz. Frank had done a similar workshop at the 2015 conference in Barcelona and had been invited back to continue the process of helping the organisation and its members focus on its key objectives.
Frank has an enthusiastic style and engaging personality that helps him to hold the attention of the audience and concentrate, over an extended period, on specific tasks. The following day, Steve Jordan presented a summary of the ideas that had emerged from the workshop for consideration by the Board.
EUROMOVERS always welcomes its first-time attendees by giving them the opportunity of addressing the group from the stage. In Edinburgh there were seven such companies, all grateful for the exposure. Guillaume Rochman from Sofrapack, once again presented his unique range of bespoke cardboard packing cases that are designed to replace wood. He explained that not only were they less expensive, lighter and more convenient that wood, they were also not subject to the ISPM15 standard for wooden packing and, therefore, were not liable for fumigation.
Marketing came under the spotlight with a dynamic presentation from Francesco Argiro from Bliss Moving and Logistics in Rome. Francesco explained some of the theory behind branding and the difference between people buying a brand rather than a commodity. He illustrated why brand positioning is important and left the group with a single thought: “If you don’t make plans for your brand and your future, someone else will do it for you.”
British Association of Removers
Ian Studd looked at some of the post-Brexit challenges for the UK moving industry including: the uncertainty in the inland domestic moving market; a temporary stagnation in the commercial moving market; and the potential for financial and other institutions to relocate their HQ’s out of the UK. But he said how you view Brexit depends on whether you feel the glass is half full or half empty. What was important to remember, however, was that the glass could always be refilled.
Ian also touched on the overseas and commercial moving sectors in the UK. He said that container movements were 10% down in 2016 and that the new ToR regulations mean that it is no longer possible for the UK to be used as the main European hub and entry point for importation of household goods. He said that he estimates that around 15,000 – 20,000 TEUs will be rerouted as a result of this change. Commercial movers saw a record £5bn transacted in the London office market during the first quarter of 2017 however, longer term, the outlook is less encouraging with Brexit uncertainty, and the likelihood of strategies taking months or years to evolve, having a negative effect.
Ian explained more about BAR and the UK industry. He had with him a wealth of statistics that were impressive. He said that BAR members have 579 locations in the UK and a 14.37% share of the UK market. Members employ nearly 11,000 people; run 4,462 vehicles; and completed 533,584 moves during 2016 generating income of over £900million and a tax revenue to the UK exchequer of £218 million. “Add this to the financial influence of the wider supply chain and it is mind boggling,” he said.
EUROMOVERS usually includes a non-industry speaker in the programme to add colour and general interest. This year that honour fell to Professor David Argyle, the Dean of the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies in Edinburgh, named after its founder, William Dick. David admitted that movers were not his usual audience, however he was able to make his talk both interesting and informative for the group. The university is one of the world’s leading research establishments and includes the Roslin Institute that became famous in the 1990s for the cloning of the world’s first mammal, ‘Dolly’ the sheep. It may have appeared to be a subject unconnected to the day-to-day life of most of the audience, however David explained that all the food we eat has, probably, at some stage, been the subject of the institute’s work.
The social side
It was a packed business programme, but EUROMOVERS knows how to enjoy itself as well. For two nights the group had dinner in the hotel, but on the final evening the whole group set off on a rain-splattered city walk (that’s when the weather finally broke) followed by dinner at the Royal Over-Seas League on Edinburgh’s Princes Street. The menu included: Cullen Skink; haggis, neeps and tatties; and Scottish Salmon. Entertainment came from the Clanadonia Pipe and Drums who delivered a testosterone-packed wall of highland music that had everyone joining in and enjoying the quintessentially Scottish evening.
Steve Jordan bullied and intimidated a small group of game movers to climb Arthur’s Seat, 250 metres above Edinburgh, to watch the sun rise at 4:42am on the first morning of the EUROMOVERS conference. It meant less time in the bar and a 3:30am start from the hotel in the Scottish half-light to climb the rough track to the summit; hard work, but a memory to last a lifetime.
Giving people a fresh start
EUROMOVERS organised a charity lottery at the Edinburgh conference in aid of ‘FreshStart’, a local charity that helps former homeless people get settled into new accommodation. Donations from members and from EUROMOVERS itself enabled a cheque for €2,250 to be handed over to the charity. The lottery winner, Mirjam Oggel from Gebr. Van den Eijnden in The Netherlands, won a free delegate pass to next year’s conference in Prague.