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One of the UK’s leading fashion brands French Connection has signed a five-year inbound logistics contract with MIQ Logistics, worth around £6m.

MIQ executives said the deal shows the growing attraction of medium-sized 3PLs to retail shippers, in comparison to the largest multinational logistics operators, due to higher customer service levels.

Andrew Martin, managing director of MIQ Logistics UK, told The Loadstar: “We think we can offer better service levels than the multinational companies because our approach is based on the feel of a local company.

“We are not constrained by the ratios that the larger corporates are, and our core value is trying to do more for the customer than anyone else,” he added.

The contract sees MIQ providing an end-to-end global supply chain solution, managing inventory from French Connection factories across Asia to their European and North American stores, and on to wholesalers in 50 countries.

The contract will also see MIQ Logistics take responsibility for providing global visibility of all product and management of French Connection’s 150,000sq ft primary UK distribution centre in Purfleet, Essex.

And in a linked development, existing MIQ customer Long Tall Sally, the specialist fashion brand for tall women, will take 38,000sq ft of dedicated space within the French Connection facility for its European retail operation.

Operating under another five-year contract, MIQ will manage the warehouse and distribution operations for 15 Long Tall Sally stores and concessions across the UK and Germany.

The contract represents something of a culmination of MIQ’s transformation from a freight forwarder to a supply chain solutions provider.

“We are winning customers who want their logistics partner to provide value through vendor management to final delivery and perhaps are not the right fit for the larger multinationals,” Mr Martin added.

“The transformation to end-to-end supply chain management was more evolution than wholesale change.”

MIQ itself has undergone a series of ownership changes over the past couple of decades, although operationally executives stressed they concentrated on maintaining a consistent level of service and stable management. In 2010, a well-established private equity firm, Austin Ventures, purchased MIQ Logistics, transforming it from dinner to diner.

The following year later MIQ acquired The Logistics Company (TLC), which greatly increased its warehouse capacity in the UK and Europe and its capacity to serve the fashion industry, and propelled turnover, which this year is expected to reach $80m.

And further acquisitions may be on the menu, Mr Martin said. “Our growth plans are ambitious, but controlled and may include acquisition to expand our capabilities in new markets such as pharma, project forwarding and possibly more, perhaps European final mile solutions.

“We are positively ‘paranoid’ to ensure that our development continues to improve the value delivered to our current customer base. At the same time that new business is added we need to be increasing material value too,” he said.

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