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Innovative approach to recruitment saves 3PL small fortune

16 July 2019

Fashion sector focused 3PL Clipper Logistics saved some £350,000 in agency fees with a recruitment initiative aimed at hiring people from groups that traditionally struggle to find work.

In its Fresh Start programme, Clipper Logistics set up partnerships with specialist organisations such as MENCAP, which helps people with learning disabilities and Tempus Novo, which assists ex-offenders in finding work.

Jennifer Swain, head of talent acquisition at Clipper Logistics told the Talent in Logistics conference in Milton Keynes the programme was a great success with the company now employing 565 Fresh Start employees, which accounts for 10% of the workforce.

“We are proud of how Fresh Start has been embraced by operations and we have saved some £350,000 over the traditional agency approach. The partner organisations, in fact, work in a similar way to agencies, they will source people but free of charge, so it is a massive commercial advantage,” says Jennifer.

The scheme has been going for just over a year, and the retention rate is 92%.

“There’s millions of people in the market who want to work but struggle to do so. It is well worth tapping into this talent pool, particularly when partner organisations are so motivated to help and so very capable, for example, helping candidates with job coaches and access to counselling.”

Within Clipper, there was scepticism about hiring ex-offenders, and some, such as sex offenders, arsonists, and those convicted of large commercial theft, are not included in the scheme.

Clipper worked hard on stakeholder education and buy-in and got employees with personal interest to act as Fresh Start champions.

“Internally, there was a real balance to be struck with how we announced the initiative to current employees. They needed to be made aware of the changes, but in order to create inclusivity, we had to make sure that new colleagues entered the business as any other new starter would,” says Jennifer.

Looking at the bigger picture, Jennifer highlighted research which suggests 80% of millennials look at the diversity & inclusion policies of prospective employers pre-interview and therefore strong, inclusive projects such as Fresh Start are a great way to attract bright young talent to the company.

“The scheme was set up in response to the potential labour shortage created by Brexit; and the responsibility of the business to create a diverse workforce. The specific goal is to reduce our dependency on labour agencies and we are also now looking to set up a foundation to help pay back our partners.”

Steve Freer, CEO at Tempus Novo adds: “Working with Clipper Logistics on its Fresh Start programme is so rewarding on many fronts, but what really stands out is the innovative approach to recruitment they have developed through offering people from the margins of our society a chance to improve their lives.

“We are proud to be their partner of choice for risk assessing and supporting the ex-offender cohort they employ, and to see people go from a place of desperation and often poverty to a situation where they feel worthy, proud and able to support their families is amazing. Together we are changing lives, reducing re-offending, reducing the number of victims and creating safer streets.”


Colin Donnelly from Sainsburys Argos also presented the Talent in Logistics conference, talking about the measures the company was taking to retain staff. It is not surprising that later the company won Best Place to Work in the Talent in Logistics Awards. At the Kettering site, Colin explained how staff have free access to a gym, subsidised canteen, and a social club with 295 members, who have organised trips to Paris, London and elsewhere. These sort of benefits can be found throughout the distribution network. Interestingly, core agency workers are not treated differently, they can use the gym, the staff shop, and get involved in continuous improvement groups.

“Ten years ago, absence rates could get as high as 10%,” says Colin. “The norm is now about 3% while some sites are below 2%.”


AO Logistics started an initiative with Think Logistics to better engage with young people. They were invited to the NDC at Crewe and invited to complete commercial challenges.  

Kerrie Salisbury of AO Logistics explains: “Warehouse managers and directors are in high demand but aspirations in our young people in Crewe were low. We need to future proof our talent pipeline. We also get involved in local community events. We don’t want parents do say ‘that’s where you will end up if you don’t do well at school’ we want them to say ‘this is where you can go if you want to do well at life’.”

Talent in Logistics Awards winners:

  • Best Place to Work; Sainsbury’s Argos
  • Collaboration in People Development; Tesco, Scania Training & South Essex College
  • Industry Ambassador of the Year; Bethany Fovargue, NOVUS
  • Inspirational Leader of the Year; Michael Price, Clipper Logistics
  • Instructor of the Year; Matthew Brooks, Rock City Stage Crew 
  • Innovation in Recruitment; Kuehne + Nagel 
  • Innovative Training Programme; AO Logistics
  • Rising Star of the Year; Tienne Oates, Wincanton
  • Training Provider of the Year; GTG Training 
  • Training Team of the Year; Eddie Stobart
  • Forklift Operator of the Year; Kris Scarborough, Wilko
  • LGV Driver of the Year; Alex Hudson, JJX Logistics