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Case study

Helping itsu grow with confidence in the face of tricky port health requirements

Since launching into supermarkets, Ligentia has been supporting itsu with rapid growth into new European territories, as well as expansion into the grocery category.

Since the itsu brand was first launched into supermarkets, Ligentia has supported its in-house team with rapid growth into new European territories – as well as expansion into the grocery category. In 2021, sales of itsu grocery products increased by 59% year-on-year driven by the post-pandemic consumer and increased demand for “restaurant-quality, convenient, Asian-inspired lunch options”.

Challenge: Rapid growth into new geographies and the grocery category

Importing the itsu products, which include miso soup, premium noodle pots, seaweed and gyoza, from Korea and Japan required a partner who could help navigate the complex port health requirements, including the need to provide a high level of detail on product ingredients and, in some cases, veterinary certificates. As well as navigating requirements for their existing product range, itsu – a brand focused on best-in-class, innovative food – needed confidence that the shipment of any newly-developed products, with new ingredients and new requirements, would be expertly managed from start to finish.

And, as with any truly collaborative partnership, itsu needed a responsive partner that would seek to drive down costs, offer honest advice and deliver supply chain optimisation on a continuous basis.


“Exceptional customer service”

The customer service is what puts Ligentia ahead of other freight forwarders, you can trust that they have all aspects covered. This allows us to have a hands-off approach to the transit and clearance of stock. It’s been a very challenging couple of years within supply chain, especially in the freight market. The excellent communication Ligentia provides means we can communicate any issues straight away so that we keep both internal and external stakeholders updated.

  • Ella Blewitt, Senior Supply Planner
  • itsu

Solution: A consultative partnership with itsu at the heart

itsu manage the relationship with their suppliers and place bookings directly, but from this point on the Ligentia team handles the process of getting products from the vendors to itsu’s UK & Dutch warehouses. Bookings are accepted, containers are secured, shipping is arranged, , import and export clearances, port health requirements; all the way to the warehouse.

Many shipments require frozen or chilled reefer containers, which pose their own challenges and proactive management to ensure additional costs aren’t accrued. While dry van containers are permitted 5-7 days at port, frozen reefer and chilled reefer containers are only permitted 2-3 days, after which port fees can be up to £200 per day.

To keep things moving for itsu we send the necessary documents to the port health authorities prior to the container arriving, meaning there’s minimal waiting once it arrives at port and we’re avoiding any additional demurrage fees.

With itsu shipments being booked up to three months in advance of sailing dates, DC bookings often need to be made as products are leaving origin ports. When the market is unstable, this can be quite a challenge. However, Ligentia’s agile and highly responsive team are able to closely manage ETAs for itsu, as well as maintain frequent contact with suppliers to identify any potential delays early on and ensure products still get to where they need to be on time.

The Manchester-based team, now self-proclaimed “itsu product range experts”, have helped itsu launch new products by knowing the right questions to ask, the considerations that need to be made and developing a detailed understanding of the documentation required. This includes providing time-efficient airfreight options on occasions where stock was required quickly.

Impact: A bolstered itsu team fit for future growth

Ligentia and itsu have developed a strong partnership built on transparency, collaboration and end-to-end expert advice. As port health and itsu product gurus, our team are the first point-of-contact when it comes to questions related to special or port health requirements. Through optimisation of the ports that itsu’s products are delivered into – dependent on the DC they’re destined for – haulage costs have been reduced. On average, £200 per container has been saved – as well as this being a more environmentally sustainable option.

When new products or flavours are set to be launched, the team advises itsu on any specific country requirements, considerations that need to be made or documentation that might be required. What’s more, as European growth continues, our team regularly get involved in meetings and calls, working as a true extension of the itsu team.

Testament to the strength of the itsu and Ligentia relationship, we are now working closely together on initiatives that will help support the development of our respective apprentices.

“It’s been great to see the itsu business grow over the course of our partnership with them, and I really feel like we – Ligentia as a business – and the Manchester team too, have grown with them. The relationship we’ve developed is incredible. It’s built on a lot of trust.”

Chris Finnigan, Manchester Branch Manager, Ligentia

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