Despite a “hugely challenging year”, which saw Gregory Distribution Holdings forced to reduce its apprenticeship programme and run fewer vehicles in 2022, profit and turnover rose, aided by some high performing contracts and the integration of the Pollock businesses, the company has revealed.
Greegory Distribution Holdings employs around 3,000 staff across 20 hubs stretching from Aberdeen to Truro. The company, which purchased Pollock Holdings and its subsidiaries Pollock (Scotrans) and Pollock Express in 2021, includes ARR Craib Transport and a joint venture with Hayton Coulthard.
The family-owned firm, which is a member of Palletways, Palletline and HazChem, boasts over 400 customers and operates a fleet of over 1,000 vehicles and around 2,000 trailers. It specialises in ambient and temperature controlled palletised services, ambient and chilled warehousing, e-fullfillment and parcel deliveries, and milk collection and shipment.
Reporting its results for the year to 1 October 2022, Gregory Distribution Holdings revealed a jump in turnover to £335.6m (2021: £273.4m) and an 8% rise in pre-tax profit to £11.9m (2021: £11m).
Within the group, Gregory Distribution saw turnover rise to £262.3m (2021: £215.5m) whilst pre-tax profit fell to £8.9m (2021: £9.3m).
Its sister company ARR Craib Transport saw turnover jump to £47.4m (2021: £43.1m) in the period. However pre-tax profit took a dive, falling to just £467,000 (£840,000).
New recruit Pollock (Scotrans) saw pre-tax profit rise to £2.3m (2021: £951,000), in its first full year of trading as part of the group, despite turnover falling slightly to £29.3m (2021: £29.8m).
In its business review of the results the group reflected on a turbulent year which saw it increase wages to mitigate the UK driver shortage and invest a “substantial” amount in its apprenticeship programme to train 230 new drivers.
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However, as the year progressed, the company battled the impacts of record fuel price rises, higher maintenance costs - driven by the lack of new trucks on the market - and falling milk volumes, as farmers were hit by rising cost of fuel and feed.
As volumes continued to fall, further exacerbated by the impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the cost of living crisis, the company was forced to reduce the number of vehicles it was running and scale back its apprenticeship programme. Start up problems at its Midlands warehouse also resulted in “a negative impact on profitability,” the report revealed.
However, the report said that "Despite the challenges described, a number of our dedicated contracts have performed well”, with the integration of the Pollock Group which it purchased in 2021 also helping to improve profitability and margins.
The company also continued to expand its warehouse business in the year, leasing a 160,000 sq ft facility in Bristol to support a blue chip customer and investing in its Plymouth warehouse to increase its refrigerated space. However start up issues at its warehouse in the Midlands during the year “impacted negatively” on profitability, the review added.
Since the year end the company said it has finalised plans to increase its warehouse footprint in Avonmouth and the Scottish Central Belt, adding another 250,000 sq ft of space to support new business with existing customers.
Despite a “hugely challenging year”, the report said business continued to grow during the year, adding that whilst pre-tax profit was below management expectations, EBITDA had outperformed the directors’ predictions in the period, standing at £32.6m (2021: £28.2m).
Turning to future developments, the review said that despite this year's economic challenges, it sees plenty of opportunities in the pipeline, with new customers and predicted a “further increase in profitability” this year.
A request for comment on the annual results by MT has yet to receive a response from the company.