The chairman of Elite Transport Services has said he has a “very strong desire” to turn the business around, after creditors voted to back a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) at the container haulier.

Gary Bethnal told MT that the decision to enter a CVA, which was backed by 99% of creditors, who will receive 37 pence in the pound over a five-year term, was not taken lightly – but was preferable to a pre-pack administration.

“It has been a tough couple of months, but there is a clear sense of the business being able to move on,” he said. “What we have done was the best option available to us at the time, but it is not a place where we want to be.”

“It is something we have had to do,” he added. “A pre-pack was never on the cards. I do not like that practice. With a CVA, while, yes, you are dumping some of your responsibilities, you are taking the hard route to turning the business around.”

The North West haulier filed a proposal for a CVA with Manchester County Court on 23 January, with the creditors’ meeting taking place on 8 February.

It is understood that the largest creditor is HMRC, which is owed around £1.5m. Unsecured creditors are owed a total of £4m.

Elite had made approximately 70 of its staff redundant before Christmas, after closing sites in Southampton and Felixstowe.

Bethnal said low volumes of containers coming into the ports for onward road transport had seen its turnover drop, forcing the closures. It will now start concentrating on distributing containers from railheads in the Midlands and North West.

“It is very much back to basics. It will be a much smaller business centred on our area of strength, which is operations in and out of the railheads,” he said.

“There is a very strong desire here to turn the business around. We are a 20-year-old business and many people have been with us since day one. We have very loyal staff and very loyal customers.”