Leadership Success at City Link

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Target Express was formed in 1982 by Ray Griffiths, Iain Sharp and Peter Neumark, entrepreneurs who had a strong belief the market needed a parcel delivery service that did what it said on the tin. During the following 19 years the organisation grew at an astonishing rate to £125 million in 2001. By this time the company was being led by Chief Executive Paul Murray and myself as Chief Operating Officer. The organisation underwent major changes whereby we strongly believed in people development whereas previous Directors hadn’t seent the improtance. Due to lack of belief in people and the development of its key personnel Target Express began to have challenges it hadn’t previously forseen.

Paul Murray and I made the decision to embark on a journey that Target Express had never been on before. A long standing and highly successful relationship with Rob Northfield from my previous companies, (Swift Transprt, DFDS Transport, Norbert Dentressangle) meant I had always invited Rob to work with senior people because of his inspirational approach. The Board of Directors of Target Express and then subsequently followed by 150 of the most senior people in the organisation attended Leadership/People Development/Culture Change Programmes over the next few years. The success of the Programmes were outstanding.

The Leadership Team became a team whereas before they were regarded as mainly very good individuals. They became more dynamic in their approach to business and more understanding in their approach to their direct reports and large workforce.

The premium parcel business has always been an extremely stressful business, however, stress levels reduced, performance improved and the bottom line became very impressive in the years to come.

The benefits of the Programme could be indentified as follows:

  • The Leadership Team truly became a team and communication was more effective with stress levels reduced and a better working relationship amongst the workforce emulating directly from the top.
  • As a result of the 150 Senior Management attending the Programme there was a clear message that Target Express cared about its people, and that people were seen as its greatest asset and would be the main reason for its success in the future.
  • Transport offices were changed to Customer Care Centres.This customer care culture was driven through the organisation and became a strong part of the culture. Customers for the first time were seen more as people and not delivery points at the end of a route. As a result the organisation through the early 2000’s until the sale in 2006 became the most successful premium parcel delivery service in the UK culminating in a successful sale to Rentokil Initial PLC in November 2006.
  • In its final year, Target Express achieved its highest ever profit of £22.5M.
  • Of the Board of Directors who underwent the training with Rob Northfield 8 of us are still working extremely well together now as Directors of City Link.

Rob has been a constant influence in my life. He has inspired every individual whom he has worked with, in every organisation I have led. This inspirational approach has eased the way for my organisation’s success.

Peter Cvetkovic
Managing Director, City Link Ltd