Bulk haulage firm Fred Sherwood & Sons saw its pre-tax profit tumble by three quarters to £644,000 last year as the firm battled declining asset resale values, rising fuel prices and pay rate pressures.

Whilst the Leicestershire family firm saw turnover rise in the year to 31 March 2019 to £33.9m (2017: £33,775), this was attributed largely to recharge sales, with haulage turnover declining “slightly” in the period, according to its latest annual results.

In the same year, pre-tax profit dived 75% to £644,000, down from £2.6m in the previous year, when profit was boosted by an additional £2m of income from shares in “group undertakings”. Without this additional income pre-tax profit for the year to March 31 2018 would have stood at £626,000.

In its strategic review to the annual results the group said the year had brought “challenging” market conditions which saw a “slight” decline in haulage activities which had prompted the directors to scale down the fleet “slightly.”

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It said profit margins had been hit by increased lorry depreciation charges due to the level of asset resale values, pressure on pay rates and increasing fuel prices in the period.

Net assets decreased by £3.8m to £18.4m in the year, after payment of dividends to the holding company.

Despite these headwinds, the company continued to invest “heavily” in revitalising the fleet with more than £2.5m invested in lorries and trailers in the period.

The group said it had also invested in driver training and technology to deliver greater efficiencies, cut the risk of incidents and reduce the firm’s environmental impact.

Fred Sherwood & Sons (Transport) is part of the Fred Sherwood Group which also includes Fred Sherwood (Shepshed); recycling transport firm Bulk Transport (Midlands); grain haulier George Varney (Bulk Services); aggregates firms Bulk Minerals and Bulk Recycling; dry cargo transport firms Kwik Freight; and KJ Transport.