An investment in Elddis Transport’s fleet and IT systems and the need to restate its 2016 accounts due to an “adjustment” in the way its hire purchase interest was reported, saw annual profit fall in its latest published accounts.

In the year to 31 December 2017 the County Durham operator revealed a 5% rise in turnover to £26.9m (2016: £25.6m). However pre-tax profit fell to £479,000 (2016: £777,000) in the period.

Speaking to MT, MD Nigel Cook, said: “Pre-tax profits were down due to the level of investment in the year in our fleet - and because of an adjustment in the way we reported our hire purchase interest in 2016 it had to be restated - otherwise our pre-tax profits would have been more or less like-for-like on the previous year and what is significant is that our EBITDA has improved year on year.”

During the year the company bought 26 Mercedes Benz trucks and 30 trailers and began the roll-out of an IT project to equip all its drivers with tablets.

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Cook said: “We are slowly increasing our fleet. We have a fleet of 160 vehicles of which 90% are Mercedes-Benz. We took on another five trucks on 1 September with two more due before the end of the year and another ten on order in 2019.”

Cook said the company has also increased drivers wages to counteract the national driver shortage.

“Being in the North East of the country we only ever had a small number of Eastern European drivers but as their numbers fall in the south of the country this has driven wage inflation there to the point where it makes it increasingly attractive to drivers up here to travel.

“So we have to ensure we get our driver remuneration correct to retain our numbers. That has never been easy and it is getting harder each year but we are pushing forwards and we do have a lot of long serving drivers.”