In this episode, Courtenay Morison, Director of Clockwork Removals & Storage, discusses how he started in the industry back in 1994/5 after he was asked to move a wardrobe for a friend across town (which he did with a friend for the princely sum of £20), using one of his long wheelbase vans from his Caller Keg business, where he delivered kegs of beer for weddings, parties, etc., but as this was mainly work on Friday’s and weekends the vans had nothing to do during the week. So having moved the wardrobe Clockwork Removals & Storage was born, in Edinburgh with a Luton van and a 7.5 tonne truck, operating originally from Aardvark Self Storage.
We discover that Clockwork Removals & Storage have an annual turnover of £11/12m and run 4/5 branches in Scotland and a further 4/5 in England, including the well-known brand of Edwards Trade Storage which runs out of Gloucestershire and services the London storage market. Clockwork employs approximately 130 full time staff and run 100 vehicles (which includes trucks, vans and cars).
We discuss Courtenay’s acquisitions over the years and although there have been none in the past three years, he is negotiations with several companies and is always on the lookout for business with a turnover of £500k+.
We discover that Courtenay believes domestic customers get a better deal with traditional 250 cuft storage containers over Self Storage, citing that customers do not need regular access and that there is a massive disparity in cost. Courtenay would never undertake the investment required to ‘kit out’ a property for Self Storage unless he owned the freehold and be within a town with ‘plenty of chimney pots’.
We discuss the challenges Courtenay has experienced, the main one being 10 years ago when Clockwork had too much debt and the company was not running as well as it should, even with a turnover of £19m at that time.
We discover that one change Courtenay would make to his past would have been to join another removal company, such as Pickfords, to learn the trade first-hand, therefore saving Courtenay years of ‘hardship and pain’ from the mistakes made in the early years of trading.
We discuss Courtenay’s highpoint, and it is now, as last year (2020) was a very good year for Clockwork, hitting 10% nett profit even during the pandemic.
We discover that Courtenay would not make a single change to the industry, the industry hasn’t changed from a moving perspective, 300 years ago you would have moved by horse and cart but the way in which you loaded that cart is no different from loading a truck, so it is incredibly resistant to change. I challenged Courtenay on the public perception of the industry, and he stated that it has always been like that and it will never change, citing 'buy cheap, buy twice'.
We discuss the advice Courtenay would give to a younger self and it was to go and work for a Pickfords or similar company and ‘learn on other people’s time’.
We discover that over the next 5 years Courtenay see’s low loaders being more prevalent in London and other major cities with 18 tonne truck restrictions becoming increasingly challenging. For Clockwork, Courtenay believes the storage market has never been busier, and see’s continued growth in this sector. Edwards Trade Storage currently house 5,500 containers but are looking to increase this by a further 2,000, and at that point Courtenay will then look to build a 100,000 sqft warehouse to hold 12,000 containers within 90 minutes of NW10 in London in the next 3/4 years.
We discuss that outside of the industry Courtenay enjoys spending time with his wife and 3 children and is keen to get back to playing rugby and enjoy a few pints afterwards, once the current lockdown restrictions are relaxed.
And as always we end Moving Matters with a funny moving story that ended up in court due to non-payment and the customer’s goods being skipped!
Links to Clockwork Removals & Storage: