SH Pratt's Halo at DP World London Gateway promises to be state-of-the-art facility

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Photos courtesy of SH Pratt

SH Pratt Group, who have specialised in fruit ripening and distribution since 1960, just announced their new bespoke-controlled distribution facility at DP World London Gateway called Halo, which is slated to open next month. The Luton-based firm seeks to reduce food miles and increase freshness in perishable and chilled supply chains by adding value to products coming across the quay at DP World London Gateway Port.

According to official reports, the 108,555-sq. ft, state-of-the-art, multi-chambered warehouse will handle temperature products, before distributing them to the UK consumer market. The company says the facility will ensure a more sustainable supply chain, cutting waste, cost and time to market. As part of the construction process, SH Pratt Group has installed high-tech temperature controlling equipment across nine chambers, including three frozen chambers.

“We’re really pleased with how the building has progressed," says Robert Wells, Chairman, SH Pratt Group. "Halo will see us drawing on our expertise in delivering a quality service when it comes to handling a wide range of products."

Claiming to be “the fastest, the freshest and the leanest,” Halo boasts food safety accreditation and investments in technology, delivering fresh and safe produce that is transparent across the supply chain.

The fully integrated logistics facility has been qualified as a Grade A building, rated BREEAM ‘Excellent’, EPC ‘A’ rated and with The Planet Mark™ accreditation, ensuring that construction was undertaken in the most environmentally friendly way possible. 

DP World London Gateway’s market-centric location, 25 miles from Central London, means more than 18 million consumers are located within a 90-minute drive. It presents an opportunity for retailers and importers to reduce lead times, increase the freshness and shelf life of products by getting them to stores faster; all with a reduced carbon footprint.

Also being located within the DP World London Gateway Logistics Park’s West Zone, the facility will feature multiple temperature regimes, from frozen to ambient, enabling flexible as well as multi-usage. It also will employ advanced IT systems to aid the monitoring of products and ensure quality. In terms of construction, it is planned for warehouse facilities up to 1.5 million-sq. ft in size and 42m in height.

Internationally speaking, the Halo centre will handle goods arriving at DP World London Gateway Port from a number of countries around the world. There will also be grounds for more than 400 vehicles nationwide, supporting UK and wider European accessibility to and from the facility. For the actual tracking of goods, enterprise resource planning software (ERP) will make it possible for customers to see where their goods are through a portal.

Park Development Director DP World London Gateway Oliver Treneman says, “Halo is going to add value to temperature-controlled supply chains through its mix of expertise and know-how and through operating a high-spec, focused facility on the same site as one of the world’s fastest growing container ports.”

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Produce Business UK talked with Gavin Knight, managing director of Halo, to understand the impact of this new facility and the specifics of its technology. Knight has been in the sector of Fresh Produce for the past 20 years, and prior to that, his father ran a vegetable cooperative in Lincolnshire, so his knowledge and expertise in this sector is pronounced and invaluable. 

How did the whole idea for Halo come about?

Halo was the vision of SH Pratt, to expand their portfolio and turnover. It complements the group extremely well, especially Kinship, our logistics business which gives us the full supply-chain solution. SH Pratt, which is a family-owned-and-managed business, has financed the five-year expansion plan, of Halo is one part.

What are the business partnerships associated with this? For example, who specifically will manage it?

Halo is solely owned by the SH Pratt Group, which is managed by David Bateman, group managing director; and as managing director of Halo, I am responsible for the day-to-day and the driving force behind Halo.

In terms of the industry at large, is this the first initiative of its kind?

There have been similar initiatives but none that are as highly invested, highly automated and future-proofed in a vast expanding port than Halo. The location of Halo is perfect not only to eradicate cost and time for Southern Hemisphere product (80 per cent arrives at London Gateway) but also for Northern Hemisphere, where it will add significant value to our customers' supply chain. 

With regards to your clients, who do you foresee as the main ones most benefiting from this service? 

We will have a mixed portfolio, including retailers, importers and exporters across the full supply chain. 

DP World London Gateway’s market-centric location, 25 miles from Central London, means more than 18 million consumers are located within a 90-minute drive. It presents an opportunity for retailers and importers to reduce lead times, increase the freshness and shelf life of products by getting them to stores faster – and with a reduced carbon footprint. 

What makes this different in terms of other facilities that offer a similar profile? What is the unique selling point?

65 per cent of the population live in the South of England, and there is no other facility like Halo based at this location, which also happens to have 80 per cent of Southern Hemisphere arrivals.

It is called a bespoke temperature-controlled added-value facility. What exactly does this mean? 

We handle everything from field to fork, as well as frozen product. As fresh produce arrives in the UK, we can provide one of or all of the following: storage, ripening, picking and packing and then distribution of the produce to the regional distribution centres, which saves the retailer money, means the consumer gets a fresher piece of produce. And the environment loves it because it saves thousands of miles.

What was the need behind creating such a system?

The need is for a greater focus on the fresh produce supply chain, delivering a more cost-effective, fresher and more environmentally friendly product to the end consumer. 

Why is this specifically named a “state-of-the-art, fully accredited, fully focused facility”?

We have the most up-to-date ERP System (Enterprise Resource Planner) — Prophet 3 (PR3). The systems and processes that have been implemented have been led by a management team that combined has over 50 years experience in the service provision industry. We also have invested in our food safety, quality and compliance management system, and we use Food 360, which allows our systems and procedures to be at the forefront of food safety.

How will you ensure the management of this process?

We have carefully selected quality supervisors who are highly trained to manage the process, ensuring attention to detail and efficient and effective production at all times. Our quality supervisors also manage the shelf life of the products to ensure consumers have the maximum edible life.

HALO are dedicated to food safety and aspire an industry-leading service, with accreditations, TPPS, The Organic Soil Association, BRC, SEDEX, The Ethical Trading Association, giving you the reassurance you need of the high standards we achieve.

What about globally? Are there any other competitors to this in the international marketplace?

At this precise moment in time, no, but we expect competitors to launch over the next 18 months.

About Halo: Halo is part of SH Pratt Group’s programme of investment over the last few years and is supported by Kinship Logistics, its wholly-owned logistics subsidiary, along with FreshLinc, the venture’s strategic logistics partner. Halo was created to specialize in eradicating costs, delivering freshness, consolidating the supply base and reducing the carbon footprint. Focused on industry-leading environmental solutions, Halo is strategically situated at the Port of London Gateway affording them positioning to eradicate container inbound costs and its nationwide road network links. Their premises include the positive releasing of finished product, not just the fruit but packaging and packaging information. The company’s motto: “We remove cost, we remove food miles, we remove time enabling us to ensure our customers will never miss a sale, deliver freshness or deliver value for the future.”

About SH Pratt: Established in 1947 as an independent family-run business, SH Pratt specializes in the import, ripening and distribution of fruit. Previously known as SH Pratt & Co Bananas, they diversified into separate divisions under the SH Pratt Group umbrella, enabling service of a range of sectors within the food produce and distribution industry. 

About Kinship Logistics: Kinship Logistics, part of the SH Pratt Group, provides specialist supply chain solutions throughout the UK, focusing mainly on the retail and foodservice markets. They distribute more than 2,000 pallets per day and move more than  200 containers per week throughout their supply network.

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