Park Logisitics - Creating Supply Chain Solutions

Park Logistics - Creating supply Chain Solutions

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Fork trucks – Warehouse HC Forklifts UK

In 2012, Eqstra Group Director and materials handling specialist Terry Kendrew spotted an opportunity to set-up a new operation importing quality Chinese-built forklift trucks and warehouse machines into the market.

Terry_KendrewTwelve months on, HC Forklifts UK has a rapidly expanding dealer network, access to one of the fastest growing product ranges in the industry, an extensive stock of new machines available for delivery within 24 hours and a comprehensive parts-support operation. Warehouse Logistics News caught up with Terry to hear how the market is quickly finding favour for Hangcha’s impressive HC range.

WLN – 2013 – How was it for you?

It’s been a very exciting year for us as we have literally grown a new organisation from scratch, and now have a consistent flow of orders coming into the business. Every quarter has been bigger than the one before, and the product acceptance amongst dealers and customers has been extremely high, which is very reassuring.

To successfully launch HC Forklifts UK in such a short space of time has made this an immensely busy year. But looking back, it is fair to say we are very happy with what we’ve accomplished, and I know Hangcha are as well.

From our side the support we have received from the whole team in China has been superb. Hangcha deliver exactly what they say they will. When we place an order it arrives on time, to the right specification, and product quality is turning more than a few heads in the industry – and in a good way!

WLN – So, HC Forklifts UK is a new name – who’s backing the venture?

HC Forklifts UK is a business unit of Eqstra Industrial Equipment, which is in turn part of the South African-based Eqstra Group.  Eqstra is a major player in the supply and maintenance of industrial, agricultural and materials handling equipment throughout southern Africa as well as the UK.

They already have an established presence within the UK materials handling sector, however, the new business will operate independently and is seen as a route to increasing the group’s share in a country where they see major opportunities to expand.

WLN – How did you secure the Hangcha deal?

I went to Hangcha’s World Conference in China in September 2012 and met with the senior managers responsible for the Western Europe market. I presented my view on the UK market and a business plan to them and we immediately began working on our strategy.

WLN – How has the Warehouse Trucks category been performing this year? What do you see as the most significant recent developments?

Much of the industry analysis suggests the market has fallen a little, but at HC Forklifts – and through the other UK activities of Eqstra Industrial Equipment, we see a lot more optimism and growing order books.

Customers appear to be much more confident in their own futures; we’ve seen an improvement in optimism and more people are ordering new trucks. Even in those sectors which don’t want to commit long-term yet, those businesses are helping to keep the short-term rental market buoyant.


WLN – What was the key driver for introducing Hangcha-built machines into the UK?

We spent a lot of hours meeting with Hangcha, inspecting its manufacturing facility and testing the products in-depth. It left me very confident in the future of Hangcha as a global player.

They are already the second largest materials handling supplier in the Chinese market, plus they export more of their production than any of their domestic rivals. So whilst Hangcha might be a relatively new name in the UK, they have been manufacturing forklifts since the 1970s. Without doubt, here is a company which is going to be active in the market for a long time to come.

We see big potential for the HHC range within our key market sectors; without doubt, we believe the HC range will help us to grow our overall UK market presence.

WLN – Why did you choose to retain the Hangcha name and not re-brand?

I asked the manufacturer how they wanted Hangcha represented in the UK and, put simply, they told me they are moving away from localised brands. They want to get the HC name out there into the marketplace. It made perfect sense to me, and so HC Forklifts UK was born.

Looking ahead, the industry is going to see a lot more HC products coming into this country and other OEMs will be challenged with matching the HC quality and clear value for money offering. HC trucks are fundamentally very strong, matching quality Chinese manufacturing with a predominantly Japanese range of powertrains.

For me, bringing HC machines into the UK makes perfect sense as the build quality is excellent. We didn’t want any quality issues, we just wanted to be able to offer customers trucks which represent excellent value for money across their whole life.

WLN – What was your biggest investment to improve your business this year?

We’ve made a number of strategic investments to ensure we had the infrastructure necessary to hit the ground running, but the single biggest investment has been in stock.

We routinely carry in excess of £500,000 of new HC equipment in our Corby facility, which we can dispatch within hours to any of our dealers nationwide.

Without a doubt, this investment was a prerequisite to launch the brand, taking into account the expectation of the company’s trading customers. The HC brand is essentially new to the marketplace and – understandably – people want to get inside the trucks’ DNA, as well as drive them, before they place an order. This is precisely what we’re set up to enable dealers and customers to do in Corby. It’s working extremely well.

We’ve also got a sizeable demo fleet and we’ll move products around the country for customers to trial on a local basis. They say proof of the pudding is in the eating, and a significant amount of the time we only deliver a demonstrator truck oneway – we’ve gotten very used to customers simply buying the demonstrator on the spot.


WLN – Have you launched any new products or services, and how are they performing?

As importers for Hangcha, we benefit – and our dealers benefit – from a constantly evolving product range. The diesel counterbalance range has just been expanded all the way up to 32 tonne machines, and a brand new warehouse range has just come online and is available to order now for delivery early in 2014.

Plus Hangcha offer much more than just standard forklifts and warehouse trucks. They also build a full range of tow tractors, lifting platforms and side-loaders.

WLN – What’s been your company’s single biggest achievement in business this year?

Without doubt, the biggest achievement of HC Forklifts UK has been setting up the dealer network. Within a period of 12 months we have built up a solid network of nearly 30 dealers which are buying HC machines. To put that in place from scratch, for a brand which is essentially new in the marketplace, is very satisfying.

It also goes to show the level of interest in products coming out of one of China’s largest home-grown forklift manufacturers.

WLN – What was your favourite business moment in 2013?

Probably seeing the reaction to our presence at IMHX! Amongst a sea of established faces at the NEC, the HC Forklifts UK team succeeded in capturing real and significant interest.

And it wasn’t just dealers and end-users coming on the stand, we had a steady stream of competitors sending over staff ‘under-cover’ to have a close-up look at our products. Not that we minded… We saw it as the ultimate form of flattery!

WLN – Can you tell us about your plans for 2014? Where do you see your business going?

From the outset, we had an ambitious target for our first year, and we’re well on target to exceed this before the year is out. In year two we are forecasting a 50 per cent unit sales increase and we expect to smash that as well.

1-HC-chrome-blackWLN – Are you looking at taking on more dealers next year?

Yes, absolutely. We’d like to have more dealers on board by the end of next year to increase our market coverage. However, we won’t sacrifice quality to achieve rapid growth – we are only interested in appointing dealers who share our passion and enthusiasm for the product, and which meet our high standards for technical excellence and customer service.

We are lucky that one of the great things about being able to offer the HC product is that it’s a range which savvy dealer principals see clear opportunities for within their business. At the very start we hand-picked a number of dealer partners to begin initial conversations with, and since then we’ve let momentum take over. We’re still approaching certain dealers proactively, but we’ve also got businesses coming and knocking on our door. It’s a great position to be in and we are very excited about the months ahead.

WLN – How does Hangcha view the UK market?

They see Western Europe as being pretty significant to their overall plans; indeed, one of our collective strategies is to build brand recognition and an improved infrastructure in 2014. I can’t say anymore for now, but watch this space!

Phone: 0845 600 9790



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