Motor Transport Top 100 – 2011

Turnover Latest £148,219,200
Turnover Previous Year £150,998,831
Profit Latest £6,000,915
Profit Previous Year £5,931,963
Employees Latest 2,043
Employees Previous Year 1,494
Sales per Employee £102,604
Profit per Employee £5,560
Change in profit per employee 140.07%
Return on Sales 4.19%

If the MT Awards is the way in which Motor Transport celebrates the industry’s successes, then the Top 100 is the means by which we measure that success. The Top 100 started in the early 1980s as the Top 50: in 1986, the top 10 comprised NFC, United Transport International, Transport Development Group (name in full, you’ll note), P&O European Transport Services, Freightliners, Lex (Transport & Distribution), United Parcels, Wincanton Transport, Bayford & Co, and Mitchell Cotts Transportation (UK). Clearly time and the never-ending appetite for mergers and acquisitions means only one of those brands – Wincanton – makes this year’s Top 100.

Indeed, the majority of that first Top 50 no longer trade under their then name or at all. Two names do stand out though: Turners and Suttons, boasting turnovers of £6.1m and £4.6m respectively 25 years ago. The Top 50 became the Top 100 in 1995: once again NFC was top, having quadrupled its turnover to nearly £2bn. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Michael Gerson was 100th on the list with a turnover of £9.5m. Sixteen years later, a transport operator needs a £16m turnover to make the grade.

While the Top 100 is based on turnover, clearly profit remains the ultimate judge of the success of any business: and transport operators face more challenges than most in controlling costs, maintaining cashflow, and finding profitable work. While the top 10 in 1995 boasted a combined turnover of £8bn, this year’s top 10’s total is “just” £9bn; similarly the total profit for the top 10 16 years ago was just more than £350m, while this year’s it is just over £400m. Neither turnover nor profit have increased that much, highlighting how much more efficient operators are at delivering transport solutions to customers – customers whom, it must be said, continue their downward pressure on rates.

Transport is a tough job, and it’s only got tougher over the years. No matter where you are on the Top 100, it is only going to get tougher still in the future. […]