A long-established Tayside removal firm has its eye on more expansion in its international business.
Dundee Removal Services (DRS) – which trades as Britannia Knightpacking – was founded in 1973 by John Brown.
He had previously worked as a bread delivery driver for Mother’s Pride.
But he saw the opportunity to use his HGV driving skills along with his manual-handling ability to be his own boss.
John is now 82, but still works part-time in the business as he wants to keep active.
The current managing director of the company is his son Scot, who joined the family-run venture 20 years ago.
Scot said most customers are from Dundee and the surrounding area, but under the Britannia banner it covers all of the north of Scotland.
He explained staff numbers had been fluctuating due to a number of factors, including an HGV driver shortage.
The current workforce at the Wester Gourdie Industrial Estate business totals 12, but there are plans to increase that to 15 early next year.
Recruitment challenges for Dundee Removal Services
Scot feels that the UK removal industry is a very under-appreciated sector.
He said: “When you get into the nitty gritty of moving there is a lot of skill required – it’s not just about lifting and shifting.
“Our staff have to deal with not only manual handling, but ensuring they do not damage the property.
“They need to be able to expertly wrap all of a client’s goods, including things like fine china and glassware, to a level that can see it get safely from Dundee to destinations as far away as Sydney.
“They need to work in all weather, deal with clients that are stressed. And they often need to be away from home when carrying out a national move.”
For all of these reasons, he said, recruiting can be difficult.
Scot added: “We must ensure we appreciate their work and reward them accordingly. In 2022, we became a living-wage employer.”
Plans for new Aberdeen depot
He added Brexit has had a negative effect on the removal industry. It has impacted not only the free movement of households across Europe, but also led to a reduction in drivers available.
But he said DRS is enjoying the best few years in its history.
Current trading is ahead of where it was in the last full pre-Covid year of 2019.
Asked about the secret of the success of the business, Scot said: “Consistency and attention to customer care. We train our staff to treat a client’s goods as if they were their own.”
He feels the biggest opportunity for the company going forward is to expand its work overseas. Scot would also like to see a depot opened in Aberdeen within the next five years.