Currie Solutions is set to move out of the red, three years after the loss making logistics firm was purchased in a management buy-out, and despite having to battle its way through the impact of Brexit, the pandemic, the driver shortage crisis and global supply chain restrictions.

The Dumfries-headquartered group, which operates a fleet of 140 trucks and 360 trailers, has 10 UK depots as well as sites in France and the Netherlands and a number of trading partners in Germany and Italy.

It offers a one stop shop of solutions, including contract haulage, UK and Western Europe groupage services, warehousing, container import and export and customs services. The group also has membership of Palletline, Palletways and The Pallet Network.

Three years after its management buy-out, in January 2019, the company is forecasting a 51% rise in turnover this year, to around £75m, and is preparing to post a profit - the first time since 2015.

Speaking to Motor Transport, group MD Stephen Turner said it has taken time to turn the company around because it needed substantial investment and restructuring.

“It was clear that we’d have to go backwards before we could go forwards. A big part of that was about investing in our people and in the business, which wasn't going to come cheap. But it was necessary in order to get to where we are now,” he explained.

He added: “That aside, no one foresaw Covid, Brexit, the driver crisis, the fuel crisis and now the P&O ferry crisis. None of that was in our business plan. However we have ticked these challenges off, one by one, and navigated ourselves through each situation.”

The company began its turnaround with a raft of bold decisions, starting with a drive to recruit high calibre executives. This saw former Geodis directors Kevin Huskie and Shaun Greig join as managing director and commercial director respectively, followed by Christian Weber, a former Allport Cargo services director who is now MD of Currie European Transport BV.

The new recruits, combined with Currie’s long serving, highly experienced staff has created a dynamic team that is ever keen to drive the business forward, Turner said.

He added: “If there is one thing I have learnt in these three years it is to surround yourself with very talented people.”

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Just weeks after the MBO, Currie Solutions also hit the acquisition trail, snapping up PS Ridgway of Dundee and Move-It Express of Livingston, to strengthen its presence north of the border.

This was closely followed by the launched of its Air and Ocean division in July 2019, offering global air and freight services, which required further investment in high quality, experienced executives.

MD Kevin Huskie told MT: “We brought in guys from DB Schenker, Kuehne and Nagel and DVS – people probably thought we were crazy, we were already losing money, but we knew it would come good. And now we are seeing the results of that.”

The team also had to hold its nerve as the acquisitions and investments took their toll on the bottom line.

Huskie said: “The very first set of results we posted were negative but thankfully our reputation and that of Stephen’s saved us - that and the fact that we were very honest and transparent with our customers, who were very supportive.”

The purchase of Laser Transport International followed in June 2021, bringing a prime location in Kent, as well as new hubs in Coventry and Swindon and sites in Holland and France.

The purchase saw the group transfer its European groupage service into Laser Transport and open a new customs service within the subsidiary, which now employs 15 staff.

Huskie said: “Our offering in Laser is very special. The service is genuinely excellent, they have a really experienced team who really look after the customers and can do all the customs work - it has huge potential and we are growing that.”

In another bold move the company also decided to reduce its artic fleet by 25% and its trailer fleet by 15%, as the driver shortage crisis hit, enabling it to avoid having trucks parked up and to divest from high volume, low margin contracts, including much of its work with Amazon.

Turner said the move has paid off, with the group able to focus on its long term customers and target better quality, high margin contracts.

Looking back on its turnaround strategy, Turner said: “Following the MBO we set out a plan to be profitable after three years. We are only going to be a few months behind schedule on that, which is hugely encouraging, considering everything that we've had to endure along the way.

“I think that's a testament to our business plan and to the people in our business.”

He added: “When we started this evolution we wanted to be able to offer a one stop shop of services and that is exactly what we do now.”