3 good news stories from the haulage industry.
According to the BBC, the British economy was hit the hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic, with economic activity falling by 20.4% in the first quarter of 2020. The UK haulage sector was no exception to this rule.
The International Road Transport Unit (IRU) estimated that the haulage industry lost over €500M in revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With all of that in mind, the CEO of the Road Haulage Association (RHA), Richard Burnett highlighted the risk posed by the pandemic on the British haulage businesses:
“It is important to remember that 85% of the UK’s haulage market is in the hands of SME operators, and we need to protect the smaller regional hauliers, making sure they are still around at the back end of this year.”
While the picture seems quite grim, there are some hauliers who, against the odds, have been succeeding during the lockdown. So in the spirit of some good news, we’ve put together a list of 3 haulage businesses who have been winning during COVID-19.
Lymers Assist Ltd is a haulage business based in Derbyshire and North West which specializes in abnormal load movement. The firm was recognised for its outstanding efforts in supporting the British communities during the pandemic. Since the beginning of the lockdown, Lymers Assist has transported temporary modular buildings to hospitals and schools as well as installed necessary infrastructure at several sites across the country. The company also accelerated, by several months, an installation at Leicester Royal Infirmary, which is planned to take place later this year. Lymer Assist’s efforts have been recognised by the Road Haulage Association as an “HGV Hero”.
Elddis Transport is a family transport and distribution firm based in Consett, Durham. The history of Elddis Transport goes back to 1881 when Thomas Cook founded his own company with only one horse and a cart. Now, the company has a large fleet of 150 vehicles and 300 trailers. Elddis Transport specializes in high cube FMCG, general road haulage, and warehousing.
Despite the challenges of the pandemic, the business managed to expand as well as improve its services. Last month, Elddis Transport purchased two new SDC Freespan curtainsiders for its operations. The business also expanded despite the disruptions. According to Nigel Cook, the Managing Director, Elddis Transport has even acquired new customers:
“...So although volumes have fallen to an extent with the impact of the pandemic we have managed to keep going reasonably well with some customers’ volumes actually rising – and we have managed to win some new business recently despite the difficulty of selling to potential new customers during the pandemic.”
Pall-Ex Group is a network of haulage businesses which is comprised of two leading UK pallet networks (Fortec & Pall-Ex (UK) Ltd) and four subsidiary depots. Pall-Ex has its headquarters in Leicester, Midlands and transports more than 35,000 pallets across the globe. Recently, the firm acquired its rival, the Fortec Distribution Company, which will be integrated into the Pall-Ex Group and continue operating as Fortec Distribution. The acquisition will provide the Pall-Ex with more than 600,000 sq ft of hub capacity and they continue to grow over 11% above the sector average.
Despite the successes achieved by some haulage businesses, COVID-19 will inevitably impact the industry in the long run. As reported by Driver Require, their CEO Kevin Smith has noted that it will take between 5-6 years for the haulage industry to return to pre-COVID state. Clearly, the pandemic has (and will have) different effects on hauliers operating in different sectors - from building service providers to FMCG or retail hauliers.
SMEs operating in the haulage and logistics sectors can benefit right now from the increased appetite of lenders to do deals with businesses, whether it be providing finance for the day-to-day running of the business, or asset finance to assist with acquiring new vehicles to boost revenue.