Straight from the Top - Rough weather, but calmer waters ahead

Magnus Krook is looking confident after a 2023 that saw rough seas for many of Smart Retur’s sectors and customers:

- I'm pleased to share that we’re seeing a positive shift in overall economic activity, with increasing demand and a brighter outlook in many sectors. However, we recognize that some industries, like construction and certain retail segments, are still facing hurdles. Despite these challenges, our pallet stock levels are getting back to normal. That said, we're keeping an eye on certain qualities and grades, Krook points out.

- To strengthen our market position, we're committed to investing in upskilling across various functions, such as IT, transportation, logistics, and business development. These efforts ensure that we’re not only meeting the evolving needs of our customers but also staying ahead of industry trends.

I'm also excited to share that we've strengthened our position as the market leader in Scandinavia, thanks to several new customer acquisitions across all our markets. This growth is a testament to how much our comprehensive business model is valued. Our innovative digital portal, or “banking” solution, has been a significant driver of this success.

In Finland, we’ve started some exciting conversations with major players about creating sustainable full-loop pallet flows. This marks a period of growth and innovation for Smart Retur that I’m particularly excited about.

At the same time, we’re closely monitoring new regulatory reporting requirements for wood packaging and pallets. To help our customers navigate these changes, we’re developing new services tailored to these needs.

Our ongoing investments and strategic initiatives reflect our dedication to providing top-notch service and maintaining our leadership in the Scandinavian market. A standout example of our success is the groundbreaking deal with Rema in Denmark, which I'm thrilled to highlight, says Krook.

Webinar 24th of October:

On October 24th we're diving into the EU's new packaging rules (PPWR) that are shaking up businesses everywhere. These regulations aim to reduce packaging waste and push for circular practices, but they also mean big changes for how we deal with transport packaging in the future.

Next, we're uncovering the goldmine of opportunities AI brings to the logistics industry. Discover how to ride the wave of digital transformation with smart strategies that can skyrocket your efficiency and profits. Don't miss out!

The three prominent speakers that will share their valuable insights and inspiration with us are:
Eirik Steindal, Grønt Punkt Norway: Working with regulations and framework conditions for producer responsibility, Steindal will talk about the new packaging regulation in the EU, and the challenges and opportunities it brings with it.
Silvija Seres, Mathematician and AI investor: With over 25 years of experience with research in AI and related business development in several industries, Seres will talk about Applied AI in the logistic industry, and why we must look beyond the hype and beyond ChatGPT and Copilot.
Trygve Refvem, experienced IT and Media manager: With over two decades in the IT and media industry, Refvem is a pioneer in generative AI and machine learning. He will provide a practical introduction to generative AI, exploring its possibilities and limitations, and show how generative AI can be used on relevant cases.
Save the date: Thursday October 24th at 0900 to 1030 AM! Invitations are coming your way after the Summer Holidays.

Get ready for the new EU regulation on packaging and the possibilities of AI in the logistics industry!

Smart Retur’s HQ - now powered by solar panels
- With reuse and sustainability at the core of our mission, we're proud to share that the building’s rooftop and facade now supply our operation, says Head of Sustianability Stine Alvestad.

The successful installation of new solar power system at Smart Retur HQ and warehouse facilities at Langhus right outside of Oslo will help power the offices and of course our electric truck with renewable energy. A total of 1096 solar panels installed generate approximately 480,000 kWh per year.

Employee of the Month

Henrik Lundqvist, Head of Operations Smart Retur Sweden
- There has been a huge change in what the market wants

Henrik is a Smart Retur and reverse logistics “lifer” having started in 2011 at what was then Waba. He has worked with all sorts of aspects within the pallet and reverse logistics industry and leads our operation in our biggest market, Sweden.

Henrik, you are a logistics veteran and have been with Smart Retur for many years. What are the biggest changes you have experienced?
We started as a straightforward pallet trading company, aiming to buy cheap and sell high. Over the years, our role has evolved to become a partner to large companies, providing various services such as digital pallet transactions, physical storage, sorting, repairing and transportation. We have expanded from a few warehouses in Sweden to a broad geographical coverage and optimized our operations by establishing ourselves in logistics properties. The pandemic dramatically impacted the market, with supply and demand for pallets becoming unpredictable. Today, we are much more than a pallet dealer—we are industry innovators developing new ideas and solutions.

Can you give an overview of your main tasks as Head of Operations? As the Head of Operations at Smart Retur, I am responsible for the day-to-day activities, which encompass everything from warehouse operations to order planning. This includes analyzing productivity data, optimizing staffing and production capacity, and using historical records to forecast future buying patterns. I also work closely with other department heads to improve overall efficiency.

Can you describe the processes you follow to ensure a smooth flow for customers? Our tools help us keep track of the quantity and quality of pallets in stock, as well as the volumes we expect to receive and the anticipated outcomes. We use this data to determine how many pallets of each quality we can allocate. Several quality assurance steps are in place during sorting, repair, and loading to ensure the highest standards.

How do you see the development of reverse logistics in the coming years?
Reverse logistics will continue to grow. Companies are increasingly aware of the value of pallets, especially after the pandemic. Additionally, new regulations and goals, such as reducing wood waste, are driving this growth. Instead of discarding pallets, companies are now more likely to send them to Smart Retur for reuse.

How has the focus on sustainability changed since you started?
When I started in 2011, sustainability was not a priority. We were a typical pallet trading company. While we have always repaired pallets to extend their life, our focus on sustainability has significantly increased in recent years. Today, sustainability is integrated into our daily operations, from reporting to compliance with new EU regulations. Our customers and suppliers now expect us to provide detailed reports on CO2 load, reuse rates, wood waste, and more.

What is the biggest benefit of working for a market leader like Smart Retur?
The greatest advantage is the opportunity to turn ideas into reality. This environment allows us to challenge traditional methods and solutions, paving the way for brand new technologies and innovations.
Thank you Henrik!

Have a great summer!

See you all in October for our EU + AI Webinar! Greetings from your friends at Smart Retur.