Despite being “significantly impacted” by the Covid-19 pandemic, Gregory Distribution Holdings has rallied, with profits up by a third, according to its latest annual results.

The family-owned firm operates a fleet of over 1,000 vehicles and around 1,900 trailers and employs over 2,700 staff across 35 locations including depots in Exeter, Plymouth, Shepton Mallet, Cullompton, Bristol, Birmingham, Aberdeen, Stockton-on-Tees, Great Yarmouth and Cumbernauld.

The company is part of a group that includes Hayton Coulthard Transport and ARR Craib Transport and is a member of both Palletline and Palletways. It specialises in ambient and temperature controlled palletised services, as well as ambient and chilled warehousing.

Reporting its results for the year ending 3 October 2020, the Exeter-based haulier revealed that pre-tax profit had jumped to £11m (2019: £8m) whilst turnover had dipped slightly to £238.3m (2019: £238.9m).

The strategic report to the result said that the pandemic had forced the company to make a number of redundancies, cut directors pay, review wages and delay capital investment as the pandemic bit.

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However, it added that the diversity of its customer base, its range of services and the strength of its balance sheet had helped it through what it described as a “turbulent” time to deliver increased profits.

It added that by taking swift action to allay the impact of the pandemic it had “recovered more quickly than anticipated, enabling us to exceed expectations for the year, albiet with a different mix of work and phasing as a result”.

Other developments in the financial year included the purchase of Highland Haulage, via its subsidiary Aberdeen-based ARR Craib in December 2019. The purchase, aimed at strengthening its pallet delivery service in Highlands, Islands and Glasgow, has seen the business integrated into ARR Craib.

Looking ahead the company said revenue is predicted to decrease “slightly” this year, due to revised customer volumes and the impact of changes to its customer base, post-Covid.

However, the company is forecasting both profits and margins to improve, the report added, thanks to new customers, increased activity with existing customers, the integration of ARR Craib into the business and the cuts and efficiencies the company made in the teeth of the pandemic.

A request for comment has yet to receive a response from Gregory Distribution Holdings.