A continued move from straight transport to logistics activities including warehousing, packing and freight forwarding helped Glasgow-based Gordon Leslie Group achieve a 20% rise in pre-tax profit in the year to 30 September 2012.

Turnover in the year fell around 8% to £4.8m (2011: £5.2m), but profit before tax came in at just over £487,000 (2011: £405,000).

MD Craig Leslie said the firm had made a “fairly conscious move” in the last two years to reduce its reliance on some transport work, much of it full load business, “rather than compete at very, very poor rates”. The drop in turnover would have been worse if the company had been more reliant on such work, he added.

The move away from haulage has seen the firm reduce the number of tractive units it runs from a peak of 20 to just six today, said Leslie. The rigid fleet has been slightly increased to 12.

Business is brisk at the firm’s two warehouses at Hillington, by contrast – its 110,000ft² site has become a bonded warehouse for longer-term contracts, including a new contract won during the year from US manufacturer Northern Power to handle the import, storage and delivery of wind turbines; while a newer 70,000ft2 warehouse established two years ago nearby is used for faster-moving, unbonded storage. The latter site also serves as the vehicle base.

Not all of the firm’s transport work has been in decline – Leslie said its work with pallet network Palletline, for instance, has been “stable” and continues to produce about 10% of total transport turnover.

Looking ahead, Leslie said that despite the firm’s lower reliance on transport, his biggest concern remains fuel prices. “I've always got one eye on the fuel with my transport hat on,” he said. “It's still one of our biggest costs and even though our fleet is down, we'll still spend half a million a year on fuel.”