As a leading 4PL service provider, X2 works with clients across the country to expand their logistics capabilities with access to an enormous network of reputable hauliers.

Both filling the capacity of SME hauliers across the country and integrating scalability into the logistical functions of its client-base, X2 is a reputable and increasingly-known 4PL service provider that can enhance profitability and improve operational efficiencies. A 4PL service provider of choice to many retail, manufacturing, and large-scale logistics clients, as well as a client of choice to many hauliers (primarily due to competitive payment terms), X2 has grown to become a dominant player within the space.

Introducing X2: A Brief History

Although originally established in 2003, the difference between the X2 of then and now is like night and day. As a 4PL business, X2 initially entered the market with what could be an enviable market offering and yet, due to a combination of factors both internal and external, X2’s early years brought their fair share of challenges. Although a profitable business, it became clear that the company would require new leadership to drive the business forward. This led to an eventual management buy-in led by Ian Cramb, an experienced logistics professional who had been on the lookout for an opportunity to take on an aspiring 4PL business and take it to the next level.

While we tend not to focus too much on the individual character of those we speak with, I feel it’s important to clarify a few important facts in this particular case. Although coming to X2 with a fantastic track record and extraordinary wealth of expertise across both small and large logistics enterprises, the decision to acquire X2 was certainly not a decision that Ian could take lightly. At the time, Ian was a successful professional, but not your stereotypical investor with enough money set aside to invest frivolously. In fact, to acquire a 70% stake in the business, Ian was forced to remortgage his own home; this speaks volumes of Ian’s own determination and confidence that he could take X2 from a small, yet profitable, business into a key player within the industry.

Ian Cramb FCILT

In the early years of the business, Ian navigated the economic crises of the times with careful, strategic decision making and the acquisition of a few key customers that could provide long-term commercial opportunities for X2. Although growth was initially at a slower pace, Ian was eventually able to buy out the remaining shareholders of the business in 2011 and undertake a significant restructuring, including the development of a talented management team around him and the establishment of operational systems and business partnerships which could serve as a foundation for the growth to come.

While X2 achieved sustainable growth between 2011 and 2020, it has really been in the last three years that the company has exploded within the market. Indeed, within the last three years the company has enjoyed a significant spike in turnover up to its present-day revenues of approximately £13m (over six times X2’s revenues when Ian first joined the business). At present, X2 has a client portfolio of approximately 260 customers of all shapes and sizes (primarily across the retail, manufacturing, and logistics industries), and works with a network in the region of 1,000 independent hauliers (the majority of which being small, family-owned businesses).

Today, X2 is increasingly becoming recognised as a growing player within the 4PL space and has the proven capacity to deliver everything from single loads to full logistics management services, nationwide, and on an incredibly flexible basis. With the flexibility to both “turn on” logistics services at short notice (sometimes within an hour of assessing any credit vulnerabilities) and simultaneously deliver these services to highly specific customer requirements, it’s truly no surprise that X2 is garnering a lot of industry attention.

Flexibility & Scalability By Design

The strength of X2’s offering primarily comes from the flexibility that it can bring to the table. While some businesses may enjoy a sublime degree of regularity and simplicity in their work, many businesses are faced with the reality of fluctuating demand and the complexity of either: managing a network of third party logistics providers, running a bloated logistics function to accommodate for peak periods, or simply facing an inability to scale up to the demands of the market. This can be an almost impossible situation for many businesses, proving a huge hurdle in the way of commercial growth opportunities and overarching profitability. X2, however, offers a solution to this problem.

X2 creates unrivalled versatility for clients by enabling them to structure operations to the average expected workload, while layering on the scalable capabilities of X2’s 4PL services to accommodate for peak periods. This provides clients the ability to have a lean, effective logistical function serving as the core of services, while benefiting from significant resilience to periods of incredible pressure (a particular stress faced by those businesses with seasonal peaks). Ultimately, this allows for operations to remain undaunted during peak periods yet highly efficient at all times.

Quite interestingly, X2’s flexible offering also comes with a number of added value benefits which clients might not initially be aware of. Perhaps the most evident of these benefits comes from the difficulties of running a logistics function within a market that is increasingly deprived of young talent. With driver shortages being a constant topic for Transport & Logistics, everyone should certainly be aware of the challenges that logistics companies face when developing their own driver network alongside the unfortunately high staff turnover that many operators have to endure. Yet, at the snap of its fingers, X2 can eradicate these issues for clients.

As an organisation working with circa 1,000 different hauliers based around the UK, X2 might be a single point of contact for clients, but it certainly isn’t a single point of failure. Should any individual haulier within the network be experiencing challenges with driver acquisition or retention, X2 has the flexibility to effortlessly redirect services through those hauliers operating within its network that have the existing talent base and capacity to deliver service. In essence, while the lack of young talent coming into the market still remains a concern that X2 is actively working to resolve, the challenges around driver turnover and retention do not impact X2’s service.

Concerning the resolution of overarching talent shortages within the market, X2 is a Silver Sponsor of Generation Logistics, an industry-led and government-backed campaign, delivered by CILT (UK) and Logistics UK, that ultimately aims to shake up perception of what logistics can offer to the next generation of industry talent. Through its support of the scheme, X2 aims to open the eyes of young aspiring professionals and highlight the wealth of emerging opportunities within the logistics sector – not simply careers for would-be drivers, but across the logistics function.

Offering some insight into the issue, Ian Cramb, Managing Director of X2 explained: “In terms of the driver shortage, we’re in a pretty good position to assist our customers. Although the driver shortage is less talked about now, that’s only because there’s less to be moved around the country as a result of the war in Ukraine, the cost of living crisis, fuel increases, and so on and so forth. When the volumes do come back, I think that shortage will emerge again on the basis of 12,000 LGV drivers retiring every year and 6,000 taking their tests. That means the problem will become steadily worse.”

For the purpose of clarification, the core benefit of X2’s mitigation of talent-related issues comes from the additional time and money that can be saved by having a single point of contact that can do this so effortlessly. Instead of tackling these challenges directly, clients are instead able to focus their efforts on the acquisition of work and other complementary initiatives, which has led to a spike in commercial growth opportunities for a number of its customers.

Supply Chain Integration & Quality Assurances

Within any outsourced logistical function, the ugly question of quality assurance always raises its head. In this respect, X2 takes its responsibility seriously, is highly selective of hauliers for within its network, and works closely with them to ensure the provision of a quality service. Even once selected, X2 and its haulier network adopt a rather integrated approach, especially on regular contracts whereby the company does maintain complete oversight of operations. Significant steps are also taken to ensure services are provided to meet specific client requirements.

Providing further information, Ian explained: “We have an in-depth selection process and the relationships with our partners are managed very closely in terms of performance, quality, training, insurances, and even in terms of customer-specific issues. So, we deal with retailers, manufacturers, large logistics companies, and some small transport companies, each of which have different requirements; sometimes they even bring different requirements depending on which customer they’re servicing as well. As such, those relationships and briefings with our hauliers are essentially back-to-back so that we can ensure they’ll be able to meet those requirements on our behalf.”

Should any issues arise, X2 maintains a strict “stop, call, wait” policy whereby drivers remain on site until a resolution has been found. This involves direct communication between X2 and the client, ensuring a satisfactory conclusion or resolution to any issues before the driver moves on.

Future Predictions & Ambitions

Confident in the recovery of the industry and its essential part within the UK economy, Ian is very clear in his belief that there will be enormous opportunities for quality 4PL service providers in the years to come. As such, Ian plans to continue strengthening X2’s service offering, demonstrating the reliability of service on offer, and espousing the added value benefits that a 4PL service can provide to organisations across the retail, manufacturing, and logistics space; and seemingly, there is no room for error within X2, with Ian expressing his determination to ensure a 100%, consistent, reliable, and efficient 4PL service.

Regarding future plans and ambitions, Ian clarified: “We might not be huge just yet (we’ve gone from a couple of million in turnover to approximately £13m), but we want to be much larger than we are right now. We have a plan to develop the business over the next couple of years and plan to continue growing the business profitably. We can only do that off the back of quality service.”

X2 (UK) Ltd  Call: +441455 220 909    Email:

Transport & Logistics – Driving The Industry Forward

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