Motor Transport Top 100 – 2014

Averages
Turnover Latest £273m
Turnover Previous Year £262m
Profit Latest £8.39m
Profit Previous Year £6.48m
Return on Sales 3.17%
Return on Sales Previous Year 2.61%

The Motor Transport Top 100 gets more remarkable every year, and the continued diversity of businesses that make money from operating CVs on a hire and reward basis is staggering.

However, this year the Top 100 reflects just what robust health the road transport industry finds itself in. In total, 84 of the 100 firms that make up the list posted a year-on-year increase in turnover in their most recent financial performance indicators, and several of those that have not have purposely downsized their operations to be more profitable. That’s a 4.2% average increase in turnover across the board, way ahead of inflation, which has hovered between 2.5% and 2.8% in the past two years.

That also means that the barriers for entry into the Top 100 continue to rise. This year the 100th entry has a turnover of £19.9m, two years ago that turnover would have got you into the mid-80s on the list. Average turnover on the list is £270.5m, compared with £259.4m last year.

Where the Top 100 companies let themselves down is in profit: nearly a third (31) of the entrants saw year-on-year falls in profit, but of the near two-thirds reporting year-on-year profit growth, average profit rose from £6.4m to £8.2m.

Breaking down the Top 100 it is intriguing to see how the road transport industry subsectors have performed. Four of the six major 3PLs (DHL, Kuehne + Nagel, Norbert Dentressangle and Eddie Stobart) saw year-on-year growth, while Wincanton and Ceva Logistics had only minor dips. However, some of those figures come with the caveat that – where possible – we have endeavoured to exclude freight forwarding turnover, although we concede that these are important and expanding areas to the overall performance of all 3PLs. Turn to page 30 to read the notes explaining the reasoning behind our entries.

This year we have a new entry at number one: Royal Mail, finally privatised late last year, no longer a state-backed monopoly and now competing with Whistl UK, formerly TNT Post, in the final mile for post, as well as with other parcel carriers in the multichannel and consumer spaces.

Royal Mail aside, parcel and post continued to show phenomenal growth on the back of the shift to multi-channel retail – GeoPost (comprising DPD and Interlink Express) boosted its turnover by more than £200m in one year, improving an already fantastic profit margin as the standout performer of the past 12 months. Finished vehicle automotive specialists also saw robust year-on-year growth as the UK’s car manufacturing base, both export and domestic sales, goes from strength to strength.

Once again, acquisitions played their part in the composition of this year’s Top 100. Kuehne + Nagel’s ascent is attributable to a full financial year incorporating its 2011 acquisition of RH Freight. Similar too at Stobart, which has bedded in Autologic; DX Group, which has incorporated Nightfreight; and Deben Transport, which bought Elite Transport Services.

We expect to see similar spikes next year when C&H (Hauliers) folds into Downton, Imperial Tankers into Suttons and Roadways into Maritime. […]