Elddis Transport's Iveco Eurocargo

Lower fuel prices cost Elddis Transport last year, with savings passed onto customers causing a drop in turnover.

The County Durham operator recorded turnover of £25.6m for the year ended 31 December 2016; a 1.6% from 2015’s £26.1m.

But MD Nigel Cook told MT the drop was entirely down to last year’s low fuel prices.

He said: “We spent less money on fuel, and that was passed on to our customers which affected our turnover.“When you look at, it was pretty much a like-for-like year. We just spend so much on fuel that it makes a big difference.”

Elddis saw a 15.9% drop in pre-tax profit, which Cook attributed to spending on business growth. “We spent a lot of money investing in the business, so depreciation was higher. We bought 24 new vehicles and 31 trailers.”

“It was a consistent year,” he added, “and it’s not an easy industry that we’re working in. Our EBITDA was up again this year, it’s been improving year on year, but we’ve invested a lot in vehicles and trailers.

“We’re trying to slowly grow the business, in a controlled manner, making sure we’re profitable, which is the most important thing, and we manage the cash flow to make sure the business is successful going forward.”

An issue Elddis continues to face is the shortage of suitable HGV drivers.

“The driver shortage is continuing to be a problem, said Cook. “We can’t see where the next generation of drivers are. We’re holding our own at the moment, but in certain depots there’s no problem and then in others it’s an issue. So we’re looking at ways to make sure we can hire and keep the right drivers.”

Having taken on new business, Cook said turnover is likely to have grown in 2017, and said Elddis is continuing to invest in the latest vehicles.

“We have 20 new trailers coming this month, and seven rigids and five artics arriving on the 1 September.”