Honorary degrees, July 2010: no.1 Hilary Devey

Posted by mjs76 at Jul 08, 2010 11:55 AM |
Successful Leicester-based businesswoman who revolutionised pallet-freight distribution.

Hilary Devey is a businesswoman and entrepreneur whose company, Pall-Ex, revolutionised the distribution of small freight loads. She will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Leicester on 13 July.

Set up in 1996, Pall-Ex was founded on the sale of Devey’s house when she could not generate financial interest in her business model, which involved collecting individual pallets from customers into a hub from where they could be delivered next day.

Before the launch of Pall-Ex, there was simply no cost-effective way to move a pallet of freight around the country. Big loads could justify a lorry, small stuff could go by courier, but there was a gap in the middle which Pall-Ex filled.

The company now shifts 10,000 pallets every night, has a turnover of nearly £100 million and recently expanded its operations into Italy. The Pall-Ex ‘hub’ is a specially built unit in Leicestershire which not only has state-of-the-art facilities but also has been designed to minimise the environmental effect.

As Chief Executive of the UK’s number one palletised freight distribution network, Hilary Devey is an inspiration to entrepreneurs everywhere. She is also a tireless campaigner for charity, a popular motivational speaker and now adds TV presenting to her skills. In 2008 Devey returned to her Lancashire roots in Channel 4’s The Secret Millionaire and she followed this in March 2010 with a series for Channel 5 called The Business Inspector, in which she turned around ailing firms.

One of the projects which benefitted from Devey’s generosity on the Channnel 4 programme was the Back Door Music Project, which keeps young people off the streets by giving them an insight into the music industry, and she is now seeking to replicate this project here in Leicestershire.