A global business is expanding in Sunderland after playing a crucial role in getting life-saving drugs to patients around the world as Covid-19 closed airports and grounded planes.
Pharmaceutical air freight company Yusen Logistics (UK) has moved into a new ‘Covid-designed’ office which is double the size of its previous unit at the North East Business and Innovation Centre (BIC) and is recruiting new staff to cope with demand for its specialist services.
The Sunderland-based team, who form an important part of the global supply chain company, are the only healthcare-focused freight forwarder in the region. They act as a freight agent for major pharmaceutical companies – organising the safe movement of medicines and their raw ingredients to every corner of the world.
Branch Manager Andrew Lowes said though Covid-19 had presented huge challenges for the team, their successful response means they are expanding and preparing to eventually transport a vaccine.
He said: “We are a control tower, directing the movement of pharmaceuticals around the world from our office here at the BIC, so the initial spread of Covid threw us some serious challenges.
“Each day brought the most unbelievably cryptic puzzles to solve as flights were cancelled and airports were closed across entire countries. People still urgently needed medicines so we had to find new ways of getting cancer drugs, cardio vascular medicines and other sophisticated treatments to waiting patients.
“Every shipment we deal with comes with very specific requirements relating to the way it is handled to regulate the temperature and keep the contents safe. Certain products even require armed escorts because the contents are so valuable.
“The team’s experience and fantastic way of working together meant we managed to keep everything on track – despite Covid’s best efforts to derail us. It’s incredible to look back and realise what we managed to accomplish – and still are accomplishing – in such difficult circumstances.
“We are now working closely with companies involved with developing a vaccine and expect soon to be moving this very important treatment around the world.”
Yusen first moved to the BIC in 2014 with three employees. It has already trebled in size and after moving to its newly-refurbished office it is recruiting again.
Andrew added: “The pharmaceutical industry has recognised how well we’ve performed during the crisis and that holds us in very good stead for future growth.
“We love our new office, which is Yusen’s first Covid-designed unit, and sets a new standard for our whole group. It’s brilliant to be able to grow our business without leaving the convenience and community of the BIC because there isn’t anywhere we’d rather be.”
The BIC’s Centre Manager Donna Surtees said: “It’s been fantastic to see Yusen’s success over the past three years and we are proud that they chose to stay here as they embark on this exciting new chapter of their growth.
“We’ve worked closely with the team to completely redesign and reconfigure their new unit to suit their business and social distancing requirements and we’ll be on hand to help when they inevitably need more space to manage their ongoing success.”