Eddie Stobart Logistics crane

Eddie Stobart Logistics (ESL) has labelled the premature end of its Concrete Products Division contract with Aggregate Industries (AI) as “regrettable” in a letter to affected staff.

Last month motortransport.co.uk revealed that Aggregate Industries had ended its partnership with the haulier just over two years into a five-year deal and appointed Wincanton in its place.

ESL had been moving finished products from the Bradstone, Charcon and Masterblock product ranges for AI from 14 UK sites, having replaced previous incumbent XPO Logistics in October 2016.

ESL and AI have yet to comment officially on why the relationship between the two broke down.

However, in the letter sent to ESL staff and seen by motortransport.co.uk, the operator expands on a previous briefing about the end of the contract, stating “regretfully we advised that it [AI] has decided to partner with seven alternative hauliers”.

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The letter is signed by the firm’s HR business partner Dawn Webster and addresses the process of transfer and terms and conditions for staff.

Last week, to mark the start of its deal, Wincanton revealed it had signed a five-year contract to transport more than 40,000 loads per year from 10 factories to customers across the country from “a majority of [AI’s] UK manufacturing sites”.

Wincanton CEO Adrian Colman said: “Our record for delivering an efficient and sustainable specialist vehicle network, and our best-in-class health and safety record, were all factors in securing this contract.”

According to the ESL letter, staff involved in the planning function for the contract were due to relocate to Wincanton’s operating sites at Hulland Ward, Derby and Leighton Buzzard for the start of the new deal under TUPE regulations. Admin staff were expected to relocate to Wincanton’s Hulland Ward and Derby operating centres.

The 3PL is also understood to be non-crane work out of Callow Rock Quarry, Cheddar, an out of a block plant in Ashington, Northumberland. wincanton is understood to be unertaking both crane and non-crane work from Grovesbury Quarry, Leighton Buzzard, too.

However, while a spokesman for Wincanton confirmed the 3PL had the bulk of the work, as the letter reveals regional hauliers are playing a vital part in delivering AI’s total requirement for its Concrete Products Division too.

Independents come to the fore

JF Pearce & Sons is one of the seven hauliers providing transport for AI (including Wincanton). It is operating from the Torr Works in Shepton Mallett, and is also handling the majority of work – much of it crane-based – at Callow.

Family firm SJ Messenger Haulage is handling distribution from Croft Quarry 1+2, Leicestershire and remains on the hunt for both sub contractors and drivers as a consequence.

MD Lee Messenger said the firm, which also works with Tarmac out of its Newark and Wolverhampton block parts, had been supporting ESL at the sites before the switch but on an ad hoc basis.

The firm, founded by now retired Steve and Amanda Messenger, has grown to 30 vehicles and around 15 regular subcontractors due to recent successes, something the AI work will drive further.  "As it's a long term contract [the new arrangement] it provides us with the confidence to invest in the business," Lee Messenger said.

Other hauliers understood to be working for AI under the new arrangement include Larbert-based Ian Craig Haulage - described as one of Scotland's largest brick and block hauliers - , and Collett Brothers Haulage, which is based in Witney, Oxfordshire  and is providing crane services from the North End Farm Works near Cirencester. The work here is understood to be being split with R Oakey & Sons from Carterton in Oxfordshire.

Eddie Stobart Logistics was approached for comment but did not respond.

Aggregate Industries

After this article was published, motortransport.co.uk received confirmation of the new arrangement from Aggregate Industries.

In a statement the company said: "In our on-going commitment to providing the best possible customer experience, leading construction and infrastructure player Aggregate Industries has changed the logistics model for its concrete products business.

"By utilising multiple logistics partners, the new model offers improved delivery performance and increased flexibility to make life easier for the customer.

"As part of the change, Wincanton has been appointed as the primary logistics partner across a majority of Aggregate Industries locations due to their experience and reputation within the construction industry, and their established partnership with Aggregate Industries’ cement and ready-mixed concrete businesses."

Customer service

Shaun Elliott, head of logistics, Concrete Products at Aggregate Industries, said: “We are always striving to provide excellent customer service, as well as great quality products and solutions.

"To help us achieve this, we regularly review our operations, suppliers and partners and explore new ways to improve our customers’ experience with us and make things easier for them.

“All of our logistics partners, including Wincanton, bring with them vast experience in the construction industry, and our customers will see the benefit.”