Keep developing to improve world trade

rotraNext | Machiel Roelofsen
Family-owned company Royal Rotra is characterised by a long history and a clear vision of the future of logistics services. Brothers Machiel and Harm Roelofsen are building an organisation with their employees that has fully digitalised ‘physical transport’. IRIS CF guided them through the sale of their physical road transport and logistics activities to Kuehne + Nagel.

Market developments

Many factors contributed to the development that Rotra set into motion several years ago. Machiel Roelofsen, director and co-owner of Rotra: ‘To be able to guarantee our clients – shippers and producers – and the customers of our clients – trade and retail – continued high-quality and affordable service, we believe it’s important in our market to invest in digitisation. Many of the costs in transport and logistics are the result of administrative handling and communication, so we had already automated many processes. Indeed, our philosophy is to have normal people providing exceptional services. We used this strength to digitise the entire logistics chain.’

rotraNext: digital forwarding

‘The transition from traditional forwarder to “digital forwarder” has also driven Rotra’s transition to rotraNext,’ Machiel continues. ‘We’ve built a strong platform that combines our service with technologies that are also being used in Silicon Valley. As one of the few in the world that currently offers the process in this way, we’re now a growth company with an entirely new proposition. So you could call us a 110-year-long scale-up. This has also made our service attractive to parties who use our data to optimise their business processes.

The transition from traditional forwarder to “digital forwarder” has also driven Rotra’s transition to rotraNext

Promoting fair world trade  

When asked about the Roelofsen brothers’ drive, Machiel replies: ‘We believe in borderless, efficient and fair world trade that grants everyone around the world convenient and equal access to products and services. rotraNext offers this through efficiency, cost and time savings, and full transparency. All of our communication takes place in real time on the platform. Our clients can monitor the progress of all shipments 24/7, even if they have to work from home. We also think it’s important to do what we can to leave a healthy planet behind for the next generation. Rotra has been working climate-neutrally since 2021.’

Shifting the focus

In addition to digitalisation, Rotra had to respond to other logistics developments as well. The services of IRIS CF were called in to help with this.
‘Our partners in road transport were dwindling as a result of takeovers and a shortage of successors. We realised that, in time, it would become difficult to maintain an effective European network,’ says Machiel. ‘So to safeguard the continuity of the road transport and logistics divisions, we sold our surface logistics activities to Kuehne + Nagel. Our transaction is helping them to strengthen the road transport network in the Netherlands and Belgium. This move is a win-win situation for both parties.’

We take care of smaller transactions ourselves, but for this sale we were happy to rely on the expertise of IRIS CF

Building the portfolio

After good past experiences working with IRIS CF partner Jan-Willem Ditters, Rotra called in IRIS CF’s M&A team.

‘We take care of smaller transactions ourselves, but for this sale we were happy to rely on the expertise of Jan-Willem and his team. It was nice to be able to shift gears quickly and to know that we were in good hands. We were able to offer Kuehne + Nagel a good transport network and very well trained, professional employees. We really focused on our strengths, on what’s good for our employees and clients in the long term. We want to further expand air and sea freight, inland shipping and the transport of wind turbines on sea vessels. We’re always on top of developments and ready to respond to them with our products and services. And if we need to, we won’t hesitate to knock on IRIS CF’s door again in the future.’

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