Interior Design

Gander and White, The Art of Shipping, Interview with Davina Walker

14th May 2018

For those of you in the know, Gander and White Shipping are a supplier to the top interior design firms. Their services are often called upon when working on very high valued projects that need that white glove service. I spoke to Davina Walker, the Department Manager for the Interior Design Division. Davina has been with Gander and White for 23 years so has seen this business grow and the wider sector change over that period.

How would you describe the difference between Gander & White and a typical shipping service?

We recognise no two clients are the same and no two projects or shipments are the same. We get to know our clients well and offer a very thorough and proactive service for them. We accept that there are sometimes problems along the way, but we don’t present problems without solutions and are always prepared to go over and above. We are friendly and take pride in forming bonds & good relationships with our clients.

What are the origins of the company? How soon after it was founded did it become involved in interior design?

The company has been established for 85 years this year. Since I have worked for the company we have always serviced interior designers and their clients but in the last 15 years the interior design market has increased dramatically and has a massive presence in today’s society. We recognised this and seen this as a big market to look after. In London we have a 7 person team on our ID department and our unit 1 facility this year is being adapted to solely become a warehouse for just interior design related work.

Being a company with a global reach, what regions are you most heavily engaged with at the moment?

We have been working in the middle east a lot this year, Amman, Riyadh, Dubai but also quite a bit in the UK too.

Your Project Design Departments offer a ‘comprehensive range of services’ to interior designers from installations to inventory management. Can you tell me more about this division and what makes it unique?

We have a wealth of experience between us. Our department is headed up by Neil McNeill who has been working in the shipping industry longer than he probably wants to confess to and has bags of experience. He has been involved with interior designers for a long time. I have been fortunate enough to have worked in the interior design industry and so I have been on both sides when it comes to shipping which definitely helps. We have developed a team that is efficient, thoughtful and constructive but pulls from other industries and also from other shipping backgrounds too. We are constantly recognising areas we need to develop and we like to feel we adapt to the ever changing market we are presented with

How have the demands of interior designers changed since your time at the company?

It’s a vast and competitive industry with changing trends and new names coming up all the time. Interior designers in the UK are obviously recognised worldwide so we have seen a massive increase in project work overseas and subsequently a huge increase in the volumes we are shipping. There have been a lot of changes in the materials and specification of goods we ship and there’s a great deal of bespoke work being commissioned which are collectors’ pieces. A great deal of time and attention goes into reaching the shipping stage for our clients so it’s obviously extremely important the end result which involves shipping and installation runs smoothly.

Gander & White has been operating since 1933. The world of shipping has changed a lot since then with the advent of digital age and faster automation. How has Gander & White evolved to compete in this intensely competitive market?

We have our own IT department and they have built and developed our shipping database and as it’s bespoke it can be tailored to our company and our clients. We offer a very good on-line inventory system which is used a great deal by our interior design clients who are extremely busy but wherever they may be they can view their inventory to keep tabs on what has been received and what hasn’t and look at the images we up load straight away.

We recognise that we are working in a fast-paced society where things need to be actioned straight away and we have definitely adapted to this and we turn shipments around and process information quickly and efficiently. We have state of the art trucks which are constantly being updated so we have a
modern fleet to service our clients. We also offer a wide range of shipping options so we can provide our clients with competitive rates with the relevant level of service they require/to suit their budget

Since you began your time at Gander & White, what have been some of the highlights?

Watching the company expand globally has been a gradual but fulfilling experience – from starting when the company only had four offices to now working for a company with 9 locations.

Being granted the Royal Warrant – something we achieved in 2017.

On a personal level with my work I’ve been involved with some amazing projects all over the world and have shipped the most phenomenal pieces. We’ve installed a large property at the bottom of a ski run at the beginning of the ski season, we’ve delivered into the roof top suites at a top hotel in London at 5am on a Sunday morning using a crane, we’ve helicopter lifted cases to the front door because we couldn’t gain access to the remote property due to a burst water pipe, to name a few

Working with such amazing and beautiful things after a while you do become slightly blasé but I find I take a step back every so often to remind myself that I am very lucky to go to work and see and experience things close up that a lot of people only possibly get to see in a glossy magazine – I think that’s got to be a highlight, surely?!

For more information, contact Gander and White.

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