Hemswell Coldstore

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Hemswell Coldstore's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Hemswell Coldstore is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles


Director and Owner Steve Hill
Hemswell Coldstore was
built by HM Government
inside a former WW2
Aircraft Hangar
With a focus on tapping into the global supply chain,
Hemswell Coldstore have developed relationships with
clients who import and export around the world, with
80 per cent of the products they handle coming from outside
the EU. Prior to establishing the business, Director Steve Hill
had worked in the food and meat industry for 30 years. Using
this expertise, he has overseen the rapid development of the
company and has focused on improving their blast freezing and
defrosting capacities. He tells
The Parliamentary Review
their global outlook and their switch to renewable energy.
Prior to joining the business, I had worked in the food and meat industry for 30
years. During this period, I was involved in all areas of the sector, from sales and
marketing to importing and exporting and latterly focusing on logistics. I was
initially invited to join the business in 2010, when it was still essentially a start-
up. The owners had purchased the site, and I was invited to help the business to
start in earnest. In 2012, I came to an agreement with the owners of the building
to take over the operating business, creating Hemswell Coldstore Ltd, while they
remained as active landlords.
Tapping into the global supply chain
I have been self-employed for the last 22 years, working across the food sector.
The contacts that I have built up in that time are the bedrock of our customer base
and are essential to the whole ethos of our business. Our cold store has a relatively
small capacity of around 4,600 pallets, so, using the knowledge I had gained
»Director and Owner: Steve Hill
»Established in 2012
»Based in Gainsborough
»No. of employees: 11
»Services: Food storage,
including blast freezing and
Hemswell Coldstore
Highlighting best practice
previously, I decided we should focus
on developing the blast freezing and
defrosting sides of the operation.
At that time, around 50 per cent of
our turnover stemmed from freezing
and defrosting. In order to raise this
percentage, we have developed the
business, achieving an AA accreditation
from the BRC the last two years. Our
goal when developing the business has
been to create something that is not
dependent on any one market or any
one customer. Eighty per cent of the
business we do is with organisations
trading with businesses outside the
EU, and no one customer constitutes
more than 20 per cent of our turnover.
We have diversified this customer base
to improve our stability, and exports
and imports now arrive or depart on a
weekly basis from around the world.
This serves both our domestic and
international clients.
Perfecting our process
The key element of our processing
is having the right controls in place.
When freezing and defrosting
products, having the correct electronic
and physical controls is essential. We
combine this with rigorously trained
staff and have invested heavily in
designing our own internal training
programmes. Rather than providing
generalised training, everything is
made specific to the employee. This is
supported by the help of a qualified
consultant who helps us to stay up to
date with legislation and make sure we
are one step ahead.
When freezing or defrosting a product,
it is crucial to verify the success of
the process, demonstrating that it
has worked. We verify the process at
the very beginning through research,
development and test trials, and this
allows us to verify every single load
that we freeze. Our systems collect
data from every load, which shows
the profile of the temperature that the
product has gone through. Our success
in this field has led to us completing
several defrosting trials for companies
who did not fully understand
We have also focused on building
the profile of the company. I wanted
a business that looked at the whole
world, rather than just easier local
contracts. Using my background in
food brokerage, I was able to see
the benefits of worldwide links.
Checking and
monitoring the freezing
Our goal
the business
has been to
that is not
dependent on
any one
Astheworld market has evolved, we
have tried to tap into it. Many of our
customers are people I have been
dealing with for many years, so when
an individual moves, they bring new
opportunities to us. Expanding our
profile and ensuring that we are a
global business have not always been
easy, but I have always been clear
in my own mind that tapping into a
worldwide supply chain is essential for
any food business.
Transitioning to renewable
The two main issues we face are
recruitment and the price we have to
pay for energy. The cost of energy,
which we are immediately affected by,
is often extremely volatile. In order to
circumvent this fluctuation, we entered
into discussions with a company who
were seeking to construct an anaerobic
digestion plant on the site. The idea
was to construct a plant that would
be able to provide us with totally
renewable energy. In September 2016,
construction was completed, and we
began to buy our energy from them.
The plant generates 3.6 megawatts
per day, and this has benefitted us in a
myriad of ways. Beyond the tax savings
we have achieved for switching to
renewable energy, we now have lower
energy prices, providing us with an
advantage in our market. Additionally,
our energy prices have not risen in the
three years we have been working
with the company. This price stability
allows us to offer more-stable prices
to our own customers, increasing
our commercial competitiveness and
allowing us to invest in infrastructure
without needing loans.
Our struggle to recruit staff and train
them sufficiently will likely be made
more difficult by Brexit. Around
50 per cent of our employees are
European economic migrants, so we
may be impacted by any changes to
their rights. In order to reduce the
potential impact this may have, we
have invested heavily in our staff and
their training. We have given every
member of staff a four per cent pay
rise every January for five consecutive
years, alongside generous bonuses. We
also make sure our staff have access to
the best equipment; in order to retain
our trained workers, we have to make
the working environment as attractive
We are continually searching for
customers who want to reach out.
Over the last few months, I have been
meeting with companies who want
us to support them through the Brexit
process. Over the next three years,
we are endeavouring to increase our
turnover by 50 per cent. This will be
achieved by utilising our capacity to
freeze as much product as possible,
securing the necessary equipment and
ensuring we have a sufficient supply
of energy. By improving our own
processes, we are able to make our
clients more competitive and sustain
our attractiveness and success into
Over the next
three years we
to increase
our turnover
by 50 per cent
Well-trained staff
operating the right
equipment is essential


This article was sponsored by Hemswell Coldstore. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Michael Gove.

Rt Hon Michael Gove's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Michael Gove

This year's Parliamentary Review comes at a momentous time for parliament, as we collectively determine the destiny of the United Kingdom. 

On October 31, the UK will leave the European Union. The successful implementation of this process is this government's number-one priority.

Three years after a historic referendum vote, we will deliver on the decisive mandate from the British people. Trust in our democracy depends on it. Until that final hour, we will work determinedly and diligently to negotiate a deal, one that abolishes the backstop and upholds the warm and close relationship we share with our friends, allies and neighbours in the EU. But in the event that the EU refuses to meet us at the table, we must be prepared to leave without a deal.

As the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, it is my job to lead on this government's approach, should that scenario happen. Preparing for Brexit is my department's driving mission. But while I am leading this turbocharged effort, the whole of government is committed to this endeavour.

Ministers across Whitehall are working together to ensure that every possibility is considered, every plan is scrutinised and every provision is made. A daily drumbeat of meetings means that we are holding departments accountable, so that preparations are completed on time.

The chancellor has confirmed that all necessary funding will be made available. And we have mobilised thecivil service, assigning 15,000 of our most talented civil servants to manage our exit from the EU.

We will make sure that on November 1, there is as little disruption to national life as possible. Our trade relationships will continue to thrive, thanks to agreements with countries around the world worth £70 billion. Our country will remain secure, thanks to nearly 1,000 new officers posted at our borders. And the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us can remain confident, with absolute certainty, of their right to remain in the UK.

Above all, our goal is to be transparent. Soon, we will launch a public information campaign so that citizens, communities and businesses are ready and reassured about what will happen in the event of “no deal”.

In my first few weeks in this role, I have travelled to ports and tarmacs, borders and bridges, all across the UK –from the seaside of Dover to the rolling green hills of County Armagh. I have heard from business owners and border officials, farmers and hauliers. They are ready to put an end to uncertainty. And they are ready to embrace the opportunities ahead.

Our departure from the EU will be a once in a lifetime chance to chart a new course for the United Kingdom. Preparing for that new course will be a herculean effort. But this country has made astounding efforts before. We can do it again.
Rt Hon Michael Gove
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster