Renewed economic confidence and a focus on efficiencies saw an increase in the amount of mergers and acquisitions in 2014 as operators looked to strengthen, diversify and consolidate. takes a look back at a surprisingly strong year of M&A activity.

In February, Pollock (Scotrans) acquired Blackburn-based haulier Gilbraith (TS) for an undisclosed seven figure sum, giving the Scottish operator extended reach into north-west England.

April saw Essex-based freight forwarder and haulier Simarco purchase Longport-Staffordshire based IFB for an undisclosed sum. April also saw private equity firm EmergeVest buys-out NFT Distribution backer Phoenix Equity Partners in a deal that valued the business at £60m, including debt.

Seafield Logistics entered administration in June. Its bulk powder transport business was acquired by Abbey Logistics Group. Lomas Distribution bought its Winsford warehousing business, while The Green Group acquired its Worksop depot.

July saw DFDS Group acquire the business, assets and share capital Quayside Distribution.

Ryder acquired Bullwell Trailer Solutions in August, while Enterprise Rent-A-Car acquired commercial vehicle rental business Burnt Tree. The same month also saw Alliance Boots take full ownership of UniDrug Distribution Group, buying the remaining 50% it did not own for £66m.

August was a busy month for M&A activity: Gregory Distribution acquired the fresh produce distribution operation of MMD (Shipping Services), while Maritime Group acquired Aegeus Transport – the holding company of Roadways Container Logistics.

Suttons tanker

Suttons Group acquired Imperial Tankers in September

In September Suttons Group acquired Imperial Tankers, the bulk chemical transport arm of Hargreaves, creating a single bulk tanker fleet of some 700 units with a combined turnover of approximately £114m from UK operations alone.

Finally in November Müller Wiseman UK & Ireland agreed to acquire the dairy operation of Dairy Crest Group, including the division’s distribution activities.