BIFA 2022
Transaid CEO Caroline Barber addresses the BIFA 2022 awards

After the madness of the past couple of years, there was an air of euphoria at yesterday’s BIFA Freight Service Awards ceremony in London, when around 500 forwarders were let off the leash to go on the lash.

Routinely held on the third Thursday of January, during what would normally be the beginning of the slack season, the annual BIFA Awards, are often rumbustious affairs, but this year there was a particularly strong sense of release as people actually got to see each other in person and not via a  Zoom call.

Host Matt Dawson, the ex-England rugby player now professional raconteur and TV personality, watched one award winner stagger off the stage clutching his prize, then he turned to the audience and noted: “Blimey, he’s not going to make it past six, is he. What’s the spread on that?”

Stumbling out of The Brewery on Chiswell Street to the nearby All Bar One, you could at times be forgiven for thinking that the pandemic was just a bad dream.

It wasn’t of course. Attendees swapped coronavirus accounts like war veterans comparing battle stories, because the British forwarding industry has had to deal with the triple challenge of maintaining operations during lockdowns, navigating freight markets that have been little short of bedlam and good old Brexit, despite the UK government’s best efforts to throw a spanner in the works at pretty much every opportunity.

So, huge congratulations to this year’s winners… but actually, even bigger congratulations to the industry as a whole, (and BIFA itself, of course, led with admirable dignity and an ever-present sense of humour by director general Robert Keen), for all the challenges it has overcome and what it has managed to achieve in the face of such considerable obstacles.

A raffle held in aid of international development charity Transaid raised £3,600.

There were many outstanding entries for the 2021 awards, which were presented at The Brewery in London, despite a year beset by multiple operational difficulties and uncertainties caused by the pandemic and the UK’s EU exit.

In the Air Cargo Services category, sponsored by IAG Cargo, Kerry Logistics triumphed over finalists Maltacourt, Pentagon and Uniserve Group.

Winner of the Ocean Services Award, sponsored by Port Express, was Allseas Global Logistics, which overcame strong challenges from finalists NNR Global Logistics and Vikstar.

Ace Forwarding took the Project Forwarding award, sponsored by Peter Lole Insurance Brokers, ahead of fellow finalists AsstrA UK, LV Logistics and Ucargo.

In the Specialist Services category, newly sponsored by Newage, the winner was Your Special Delivery Service, while the other finalists included B&H Worldwide, Cargo Overseas and Kerry Logistics.

Brunel European was the winner of the Supply Chain Management Award, sponsored by BoxTop Technologies, seeing off strong competition from fellow finalists Hemisphere Freight Services, Noatum Logistics and Uniserve.

Scooping first place in the Cool & Special Cargo category, sponsored by American Airlines Cargo, was JCS Livestock, which overcame excellent entries from fellow finalists Evolution Forwarding and United Worldwide Logistics.

Hemisphere Freight Services literally ‘went the extra mile’ to win the Extra Mile Award, sponsored by Descartes, ahead of the entries from fellow finalists Evolution Forwarding, Pentagon and Unsworth UK.

Victorious against fellow finalists Aramex (UK), Espace Europe and Reliable Shipping, Unsworth UK triumphed in the Staff Development category, which was sponsored by Albacore Systems.

In the returning European Logistics category, sponsored by TT Club, the winner was Killick Martin & Co, with the other finalists being Espace European, Simarco Worldwide Logistics and Unsworth UK.

The Apprentice of the Year, the award sponsored by Seetec Outsource Training, was Herbie Cobby (of Geodis Freight Forwarding), who beat other finalists Matt Vick (John Good Logistics), Joshua Boswell (Geodis Freight Forwarding), Bobby Lowe (NVO Consolidation) and Thomas Low (OIA Global).

Meanwhile, Laura Hobby, from FS Mackenzie, impressed the judges with her passion for the industry to be named Young Freight Forwarder of the Year, which is sponsored by Virgin Atlantic Cargo. Fellow finalists were Ronan Kitchin (Aramex UK), Milos Bogovac (ZenCargo), Corey Chambers (Ital Logistics) and Jamie Halliday (Tudor International Freight).

Finally, BIFA director general Robert Keen presented the Special Recognition Award for services to the international freight industry, as well as charitable activities, to Gordon Day, who, after retiring from the industry following a very successful career, is now a stalwart of the London Freight Club and well known to BIFA members.

Mr Keen said: “After a truly extraordinary and very challenging two years, it was great to meet in person to celebrate excellence across the freight forwarding industry, with awards that are now in their 33rd year and justifiably regarded as the most prestigious in the sector.

“I congratulate all the companies and individuals that won each category, as well as those that were shortlisted. “I would also like to recognise the support and contribution of the sponsors to the running of the competition this year. Their representatives gave their time to carry out judging and selection of winners for each award.”

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