Meet the team

UK-Ireland: passion and expertise as a common thread


One of Transuniverse’s specialities is groupage transport on the UK and Ireland. Brexit changed operations dramatically, including the introduction of customs formalities by the UK. Heidi Claeys introduces us to the UK/Ireland team, who are keeping everything on track.

Who are the members of this team?

The team consists of Thibeau De Vlieghe, Mireille Heye and myself.

Thibeau – 23 years old – started at Transuniverse as an intern in our department when he was still studying Supply Chain Management at HO Ghent. I saw very quickly that he is very driven and pleaded with the management for us to offer him a contract. He has now been with our team for two years.

Mireille – in her early 50s – is a purebred transport specialist. She had a transport company specialising in container transport that she left about two years ago to go her own way. She first worked in the Italy service team but joined our team a good two months ago. Her knowledge of container transport comes in handy for us, as we mainly deploy containers for Ireland. She looks after day-to-day ‘operations’.

I myself am 42 and have been working passionately in freight forwarding for 15 years. By the way, my father and husband also work in transport. As the ‘team coach’, I am responsible for the ‘UK/IE’ service and am the first point of contact for customers.


Are many customers still struggling with the consequences of Brexit?
Oh yes! Four years on, they still have many questions around the documentation, which is understandable. The Brits actually got off to a somewhat hasty start. They change the protocols regularly and there is no common approach in their decisions. So that still causes problems on both the British and Belgian sides. To give an example, when exporting to Switzerland, there is one way to clear goods and when exporting to the UK, there are several.

So my job includes advising and guiding clients. Fortunately, I can call on my colleagues from the Transuniverse customs team. The knowledge and expertise that it possesses is a very important asset for our company.


Did Brexit also affect your traffic to Ireland?
Previously, many lorries drove through the UK to the port of Holyhead, where they took the ferry to Ireland.

Customs formalities have made that far too cumbersome – and therefore too expensive. Therefore, trucks and – especially – containers go directly by ship to the ports of Cork and Dublin in Ireland. In Northern Ireland, UK customs rules do not apply, so many cargoes destined for Belfast and surrounding areas also pass through Ireland. Overall, we can say that traffic volumes to Ireland and Northern Ireland have increased significantly in recent years.


How are transports organised operationally?
To the UK, Transuniverse has daily departures. Thanks to our agent NTG Ebrex, which has its central hub in Birmingham, we can serve the entire UK with short transit times. We mainly use the Eurotunnel, but also the ship (unaccompanied, via Zeebrugge), usually when there are also ADR goods on board the trailer.

To Ireland, we do not have daily departures as we depend on the sailings of the shipping companies. Usually, we have two departures a week. We ship via Zeebrugge, Antwerp and Rotterdam. For distribution in Ireland, we work with Lombard Shipping in Dublin.


Besides expertise, what is the common thread within your team?
Passion. Undoubtedly passion. With a hefty chunk of common sense and a dash of banter.




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