Episode 24

Moving Matters with David Trenchard of Britannia Leatherbarrows


June 24th, 2021

53 mins 54 secs

Your Host
Special Guest

About this Episode

In this episode David Trenchard, Chairman of Britannia Leatherbarrows discusses that he may have been born in a tea chest in 1946! David joined the Trenchard’s family business when he was 16, which was started by his grandfather.

We discover that today’s company is Leatherbarrows (Britannia Leatherbarrows to be exact), which David and wife Diane bought from Aubrey Appleton in 1981 and was based in Hounslow, West London. David and Diane took the business into Pelican, but after some of the big players had decided to leave David was faced with either recruiting new Pelican members or offering themselves as a group to Britannia, which they did in 1987. In 1988 David was able to buy part of the family business, Trenchards, and took over Sketchley’s which virtually doubled the size of his business.

We discuss that David’s challenges were having no money at all when he and Diane bought Leatherbarrows, and 6 months after acquiring the business David was awarded a contract from a local department store who wanted to outsource their warehousing and deliveries, a contract David held for 39 years until the department store went into administration in 2019.

We discover that David would not change anything from his past because the traumatic experience of leaving the family business and buying Leatherbarrows gave David much better opportunity than he would have had.

We discuss David’s high points, of which there are many, but his biggest high point was in 1992 where he became BAR President for the year (as they were back in those days), the year when the borders came down in Europe. And the BAR Conference that David organised during his Presidency year which was held at Bournemouth International Centre (my first BAR conference where I exhibited as a supplier), which David was the Chairman of the Centre when it was built.

We discover that BAR Services did come from a study tour, the first BAR study tour of the USA and a consequent study tour of Europe where David, Derek Blatchford, Joe Luxford and others persuaded BAR to setup a study group to look at such things the industry and BAR could benefit from. In 1977 (corrected – not 1985) BAR Services was born as a co-operative/buying group and recruited Tony Allen to manage it. David was Chairman of BAR Services for 15 years, giving up the role when he became BAR President, but stayed on the board for 35 years!

We discuss BSEN12522 (something I was involved in being part of the original 6 companies to field trial it), and David has always been interested in standards. In 1992/3 after David’s Presidency, the French Removals Association had created a Quality Standard for Removals and had recommended it as a European Standard. 7 years on and David had completely rewritten it into what it is today.

We discover that QSS (Quality Service Standards), something David is very proud of, was formed because although FEDEMAC wanted to use outside companies to provide the assessments, the BAR, with David’s leadership, decided to use the talent of retired removers and train them to undertake the assessments. QSS is totally independent from BAR and non-BAR companies can apply to QSS for many of the ISO and BS Standards currently available.

We discuss that the one thing David would change within the industry is to make the BSEN12522 part of the BAR membership criteria. David would also like more regulation on the low weight vehicles (3.5 tonnes).

We discover that the advice David would give to himself just starting out again would be to follow your beliefs and do not be afraid to make yourself the odd one out.

We discuss that in the next 5 years David sees himself as just being there to provide guidance to his daughter and son-in-law who now run the business. We learn that David wanted to invest in demountable bodies as they offer more flexibility over rigids, similar to Richard Webster’s (Tonks Removals) comments in Episode 21. Industry wise David thinks removers need to be cleverer, recruit more youngsters and train them properly, and drivers have got to be self-taught.

We discover that David has over 300 model trucks that he has collected over the years! And I recite a story about my old boss, John McGinty (Alton Moves Group) who had models produced of his livery, to only discover an error on them!

We discuss that outside of the industry David has never lost his interest in local politics, and upon retirement from an employee of Leatherbarrows David was instrumental in successfully lobbying to drop the number of local councils in the Dorset area from 9 to 2.

And as always we end Moving Matters with not a funny, but a charming moving story with a repeat event that happened 25 years apart!


Links to Britannia Leatherbarrows: