Chris started his logistics career in the 1990s with Kuehne and Nagel at Manchester airport, and after promotion to Regional Director quickly expanded their portfolio by opening offices at Leeds/Bradford, Newcastle and Stansted airports. He helped develop the K&N blueprint in Ireland with the integration of Unifreight into the global network and undertook overseas assignment in the USA, Spain, Hong Kong and Singapore to enhance their Global Customer Programme.
On the back of this highly successful and profitable career at K&N, he was approached and recruited personally by the then global COO of Danzas Intercontinental Business Unit, Renato Chiavi, for the position of UK Managing Director Intercontinental, effective 1st January 1997. At the time Danzas was facing a real struggle to adapt to the market conditions in the UK, presenting a real challenge for Chris. He built on existing strengths in the company and in parallel recruited several high calibre executives and specialist staff to turn around the company results and execute a proven model for growth in the UK market. This was very successful, in the first two years with his team taking trading from a £4m EBIT loss to a £5m profit. He subsequently assumed responsibility as Managing Director UK/Ireland and Chairman of the Danzas group companies in this region, expanding the UK further and overseeing the acquisitions and integration of Meadows Ireland, Securicor Omega, Scottish Express and later the UK operations of ASG, a large Nordic global company.
In 1999 Deutsche Post announced the acquisition of the Danzas Group worldwide and subsequently that of Air Express International (then the global leaders in air freight forwarding). On the back of this investment and new talent, Chris and his team grew Danzas UK and then Danzas AEI Intercontinental, moving from number 28 to number 4 in the market within couple of years. The successful integration of these companies brought a combined revenue of £400m and EBIT £19.8m.
The speed and success of the new operating model resulted in his promotion in September 2001 to CEO for Europe, with additional responsibility for the full integration of the combined networks and the purchase of joint ventures and agents within this region; further complexity was added with the subsequent acquisition of Airborne Express by Deutsche Post. Between 2001 and 2005, this region grew revenue from EUR 1.8b to EUR 3.0b with EBIT moving from EUR 40m to EUR 111m, dominating the market in Freight Forwarding in Europe.
Deutsche Post continued to develop towards its strategic goal of becoming the global leader in contract logistics by purchasing the global player Exel Logistics, which brought a further expansion of the freight forwarding network and integration demands. Following a rigorous selection process against strong competition, Chris was appointed Global CEO on 1st January 2006 for DHL Global Forwarding, comprising Danzas/AEI and Exel logistics’ forwarding arm, ranked no 1 and 3 globally.
In this role he was tasked to take on what was at that time the largest integration in the global logistics market, with huge complexities across management structures, geographic network, product offering and IT operating platforms. The allotted timescale for the global integration of two years was already demanding but necessary due to the market pressures on Deutsche Post. However, with a dedicated, highly motivated management team and exceptionally supportive employees in all countries, the project was substantively completed within 8 months (including the purchase of Exel joint ventures and a reorganisation of the agents’ network) to the astonishment of the financial markets and the Deutsche Post Board. Under his leadership the team saw strong growth between 2006 and 2008, with revenue going from EUR 5.0b to EUR 12.9b and EBIT from EUR 160m to EUR 414m.
In 2008 Chris left DHL and worked for a year as an independent advisor for several Blue-Chip companies, Private Equity and Financial Institutions to support the development of M&A strategies. In May 2009 he was enticed back to the logistics industry, undertaking an assignment for Toll Holdings in Australia to support and develop a global footprint for their newly acquired Asia Forwarding business and expand their geographical reach. This assignment became very demanding to develop a “buy and build” strategy per individual country around the globe, and consequently Chris accepted a full-time role as the Global Network and Strategy Director in February 2010.
Working very closely with the CEO, the management team and the Corporate organisation in Australia, Chris and the team fast-tracked the M&A strategy with strong local companies purchased in the UK, USA, UAE, New Zealand, Germany and Turkey, and greenfield starts set up in the Nordics. In addition, a range of specialist companies were brought on board, offering services to the Sea/Air, military, retail and perishable markets. Time was also spent expanding a network of agents for non-critical markets and recruiting high calibre executives for key global positions to manage the growth generated by the new business model intended to move Toll into the top 20 global players in the industry.
During 2011-2012 he assumed additionally responsibilities to head up the UK operations and successfully integrating three companies and mentoring a new UK management team. After this he was asked by the Corporate Head Office to launch a company improvement programme, working with corporate, regional and country management teams on improving results across the board with an eye to a potential sale of the company. Initiatives included outsourcing back office services to China and Malaysia, the fast track deployment of a new operating system, and specific productivity improvement and/or turnaround activities in under-performing countries. Having successfully exceeded the targets on the profit enhancement initiatives, Chris left Toll Holding in September 2013 to explore further the Private Equity world.
His legacy at Toll Global Forwarding 2010 – 2013 included growth in revenue from A$ 850m to A$ 1.7b and with loss making EBIT turned around while employees increased from 700 to 4,200 Worldwide. His Global Strategy team was moved to Singapore to continue phases 2 and 3 of the planned development, and Toll Holding was eventual sold to Japan Post for A$ 6.5.
From 2013 to 2015 he was involved in the set-up of a Private Equity franchise, other PE investments and acted as a senior advisor on several lucrative M&A projects and IPOs.
In July 2015 Chris was approached by a former boss, Renato Chiavi who was acting as interim CEO back at DHL Global Forwarding to turnaround poor trading results and a large write off from a major project that was discontinued. Several former DGF executives returned for short term assignments, and Chris committed to one year to help support the turnaround as a ‘Hands On’ Senior Advisor to the UK management team, a position he was very happy to take given his strong former connections and loyalty to the team. During this assignment the UK team produced an exceptional turnaround growing revenue line by 12% and moving the EBITDA from EUR 10.5m to EUR 28.7m (6th in the global network). Despite a flat UK market, the management team put together an amazing programme of initiatives in areas across the company including change management, margin and network design improvements, products and sales design, upgrading trade lane activities. The results saw greatly improved customer satisfaction and employer performance ratings.
Chris completed his assignment with DHL Global Forwarding in October 2016, and continued his PE investment strategy, with an interest in the emerging Blockchain technologies, infrastructure and telecommunications, as well as supporting PE companies with M&A, and became a founding partner of KTF Stone Limited.
Throughout his professional career Chris has actively developed his professional qualifications, participating in several executive development programmes including Advanced Leadership at the Kaiser Institute (Germany), the Strategic Leadership Programme at Wharton Business School (USA), McKinsey and Company’s Future CEO – Strategy (France), Developing the Future at Dukes Business School (USA) and McKinsey & Company’s Global Outsourcing/Offshoring (USA).
Outside of work Chris is a racehorse owner, a lifelong Manchester City fan, and enjoys Formula One, Music, Fitness and mentoring everyone whether they like it or not.
Personal Reference by Renato Chiavi, former President and CEO of DHL Global Forwarding, now Senior Advisor to the Board of Management, Deutsche Post DHL:
“Chris was recommended to me as a high performing executive working with the competition, and consequently I personally recruited him for the position of MD at Danzas (UK) Ltd in 1997.
He was extremely successful in our UK organisation, and was promoted to CEO Europe in September 2001. After playing a major role in a series of large acquisitions, upon my retirement as Global CEO in January 2006, he was appointed my successor.
Chris was always hard-working, open, honest and extremely loyal during the time we were colleagues, delivering exceptional results and getting the best out of his teams.
In September 2015, upon my return to DHL as interim CEO, he returned to support me on turnaround activities in the UK, again driving excellent results. This displayed his loyalty and commitment to help everyone during difficult times.”