Brian Yeardley Continental is rising phoenix-like from near collapse, 14 months after it was forced to issue a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) after seeing its turnover plummet by 60% during the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns in the UK and Europe.

MD Kevin Hopper told MT this week that its events transport division, TRUCKINGBY Brian Yeardley, has a full order book of live events lined up for 2022, whilst its newly formed UK cargo division has landed a number of major contracts and its European general cargo division was also seeing an uplift in business after Brexit .

The turnaround comes just over a year after Brian Yeardley Continental was forced to issue a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) after TRUCKINGBY Brian Yeardley saw turnover plummet from £12m to £780,000 in 2020 as the impact of Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic saw hundreds of events across the UK and Europe cancelled.

Hopper said: “We were on our knees. We had also invested heavily in new equipment buying 20 trucks and 15 trailers to make sure we could fulfil our 2020 music touring and other live event commitments. The new kit was all financed by the funding houses and our bank, so, when it eventually arrived in February 2020, just as Covid kicked in, the finance houses wanted us to start making repayments which was an impossible situation with no revenue coming in."

He added: “The business became unsustainable and so we had a choice. We could either go bankrupt or go into a CVA. In some ways it might have been easier to shut down and walk away but that was never in our thinking - the main reason being we did not want 104 people to lose their jobs.

“We are based in Featherstone West Yorkshire, a former pit town and these jobs are important to people and to the community. And we did not want to lose the business, which had been going for 48 years. It means a lot to us the directors and to [founder and now retired] Brian Yeardley. So we were determined to continue to trade.”

Hopper said he was frequently moved to tears by the support the company received from the company’s creditors. “Ninety four percent of our creditors supported the CVA because they had worked with us for years and they recognised that if it wasn’t for Covid-19 we would not have been in this position. So they stood by us, which was very moving. And their support meant such a lot to us.”

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The group rapidly diversified into general cargo distribution in the UK, landing what Hopper describes as “some very nice regular contracts.” It has also expanded its European cargo business and launched a customs bureaux last year, to help companies deal with the new Brexit border regulations.

“It has taken two years for British exporters and importers to regain their confidence and we are now seeing that demand grow,” Hopper said.

The company also appointed Brian Yeardley’s son Dominic Yeardley as commercial director in June 2020 to help turn the business around. Hopper praised Yeardley for helping to reshape and remodel the business. “He has been amazing. His input has been invaluable and we would not have done it without Dominic,” he added.

Fourteen months into the five-year CVA, the business has also seen a resurgence in events bookings, Hopper said, with TRUCKINGBY Bran Yeardley currently preparing for a major Simply Red UK tour requiring a convoy of nine trucks and trailers.

The division is now looking forward to renewing business with its music industry clients who in the past have included other major acts like Phil Collins and Genesis, Simple Minds, Jack Savoretti, Rick Wakeman, The Foals, Sir Van Morrison, Paul Weller, Elvis Costello, Weezer and Bastille to name a few.

Hopper said: “Our music clients in the States and in the UK now have the confidence to book tours. We are flat out in February and March and we are already looking very busy in the summer.”

He added: “It has been tough. I can honestly say I did not sleep for nine months in 2020. But we are working hard to turn this business around and get fully back on track and meet our obligations as regards the CVA & its creditors.

“I am proud of our team of people who I work with and I am proud that we could keep them in work and I really cannot thank our suppliers and staff enough for the amazing support they have given us through this difficult time.”