Trucking BY Brian Yeardley

Pre-tax profit at Brian Yeardley fell by nearly 50% in 2016, hit by a combination of migrant problems in Calais, unstable currency exchange rates and fleet investment.

The operator’s pre-tax profit for the year was £368,000; down 48% on 2015’s £544,000.

The main cause of this, MD Kevin Hopper told MT, was because it had to absorb more than £300,000 of extra costs as a result of the Calais migrant crisis.

Hopper said: “We made the decision to ship through Zeebrugge and Europort in Rotterdam rather than Calais and Dunkirk, because they had become no-go areas for trucks. Our drivers’ safety comes first. This incurred massive rerouteing costs until September, when they closed the jungle.”

The business returned to profitability after the camp had been dismantled, but Hopper said migrant activity has been picking up again in recent weeks and another year like 2016 could be “disastrous for the business”.

“Last year was the worst in [road haulage] I’ve ever had,” he added.

Another difficulty for Brian Yeardley, which buys 95% of its fuel on the continent, was a weaker pound against the euro. This, said Hopper, was aggravated by rising fuel prices across the channel.

Brian Yeardley managed to partially offset the inflated cost of buying the currency by asking overseas customers that had traditionally paid in sterling to pay in euros instead.

“When Brexit was announced last year we saw the value of the pound drop, and we saw the impact it had on our bottom line. We had to start thinking quickly and thinking smart about how we could rectify that,” said Hopper.

But despite the setbacks, Hopper said Brian Yeardley had performed well in 2016. The company's turnover increased by 9.6% to £14.3m (2015: £13m).

“We knew exactly where we’d finish last year, and actually we budgeted for worse than the result we actually produced.

“Trading’s very good, we gained a couple of new contracts last year and we made good profit and increased turnover. We have also had a record January, February and March this year.”

A strong performance by the operator’s growing events business Trucking By led Brian Yeardley (pictured) to add 30 new box trailers to its dedicated fleet, as well as seven new tractor units.

Hopper said he believes it’s a good time to be expanding a vehicle fleet in the UK, as changes to overnight rules and minimum wages on the continent could lead to a shortfall of trucks working in the country.

He said: “We’re going to see fewer eastern European hauliers coming into the UK and that’s going to mean that there will be a shortage of trucks in the UK, and we want to get ahead of that.

“We have another seven trailers on order at the moment as well as an additional seven tractors.”