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UPS acquires U.K.-based Polar Speed

By Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
February 12, 2014

Transportation and logistics bellwether UPS continues to expand its global healthcare footprint, announcing this week it has acquired Polar Speed, a United Kingdom-based provider of temperature-sensitive supply chain solutions.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

UPS officials said Polar Speed’s core focus is on active temperature-controlled deliveries to hospitals, pharmacies, wholesalers, surgery centers, and end patients, while also offering services in the homecare direct-to-consumer delivery market.

UPS VP of Global Healthcare Product Strategy Bill Hook told LM that this acquisition provides UPS a footprint in the U.K. from which to further expand its European healthcare network and extends its portfolio of temperature-sensitive solutions in the region. And he added this is UPS’s third healthcare logistics acquisition in Europe, as its current healthcare presence in Europe includes two flagship healthcare facilities in the Netherlands (Roermond and Venlo), two facilities in Italy (Rome and Milan), three facilities in Budapest, Hungary (from the CEMELOG acquisition) and a facility in Madrid.

With this acquisition, UPS reinforces its strategy to offer healthcare companies access to a single quality standard for distribution and transportation of healthcare products in Europe.

“Polar Speed is an excellent strategic and operational fit for UPS because of its focus on transportation and technology solutions to protect high-value and temperature-sensitive products,” he said, adding that “these temperature-controlled solutions are being leveraged by the world’s top pharmaceutical companies.”

And in terms of timing, Hook explained that this acquisition is part of UPS’s global healthcare logistics investment and growth strategy to serve the growing and evolving needs of its pharmaceutical, biotech and medical device customers around the world.

“With the acquisition, which added three facilities, we now operate 45 dedicated healthcare facilities — more than 6.4 million square feet in strategic global locations,” he said. “UPS is always evaluating opportunities to grow its global healthcare business via facility expansions, the introduction of new products and services into the healthcare logistics marketplace, or acquisitions such as this one.”

UPS said that Polar Speed Polar Speed has a fleet of 118 actively monitored temperature-controlled vehicles for transporting both 2-8 degrees Celsius refrigerated and 15-25 degrees Celsius products in accordance with U.K.‘s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) guidelines. The company added that the fleet is outfitted with sophisticated technology, including on-board temperature recorders and alarms to alert drivers of potential temperature excursions as well as a PolarTrack, an online portal linked to a satellite navigation system allowing customers to access real-time delivery status and temperature conditions of their products. Polar Speed has approximately 190 employees.
When asked what the biggest benefit of this deal are for UPS shippers, Hook said that it will provide them with a safe, efficient, compliant and reliable temperature controlled supply chain and a new entry point into the U.K. via Polar Speed’s existing operations.
“Consequently, hundreds of healthcare companies in the U.K. wanting to expand beyond the U.K. market will now have additional access to UPS’s robust global network,” he said. “It allows customers to reduce the number of companies they are working with for temperature controlled transportation and distribution solutions in order to drive efficiencies and better manage costs. Combining Polar Speed’s temperature-sensitive transportation services and technology solutions with UPS’s strong global network, including distribution, transportation, technology and contract logistics solutions, gives global and Europe-based healthcare companies access to a one stop solution for distribution and transportation of healthcare products in the region.
The acquisition also enables UPS to provide extremely specialized services and capabilities to serve customers whether they are patients, clinics, distributors, or pharmacies, and it brings along significant U.K.-specific regulatory and market expertise to UPS shippers as Polar Speed has been operating for over 15 years in the U.K. healthcare logistics market, according to Hook.

UPS declined to disclose the number of Polar Speed’s customers as it considers that proprietary information but did note that Polar Speed serves some of the top pharmaceutical companies worldwide. 

Going forward, Hook said Polar Speed is a platform for UPS to establish itself in the U.K., with the company planning to continue investing in global opportunities to strengthen its growing healthcare logistics network. 

“By combining our capabilities with Polar Speed, we offer a unique portfolio of competencies and solutions for shippers targeting the U.K. market, along with global reach for U.K.-based shippers,” he stated.

Richard Holmes, Managing Director of Polar Speed, said in a statement he was equally excited about this deal.

“Our organization is extremely excited to join forces with UPS,” said Holmes. “With our combined solutions, we will continue to provide high-quality service to our customers, and at the same time provide our employees opportunities to help build on the growth momentum UPS has realized in the healthcare market.”

About the Author

Jeff Berman headshot
Jeff Berman
Group News Editor

Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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