Hoyer Petrolog has insisted that the UK remains an important market to the German multi-national transport giant, despite forecasting flat turnover in a bulk transport market that remains in "steady decline".

However pre-tax profit in its UK business rose 29% to £4.2m for the 12 months ending 31 December 2013, from £3.6m in the previous year, according to results filed at Companies House as the director's report warned of a challenging 2013.

Turnover in continuing operations fell from £86.4m in 2011 to £85.5m, primarily due to lower bitumen volumes.

At the beginning of last year Hoyer restructured, disposing of its trade and assets in chemicals, foodstuffs and air gases to what it describes as "another group company".

This disposal included its investment in subsidaries Dennis Dixon and Hoyer Container Rental UK, and resulted in it changing its name to Hoyer Petrolog UK (from Hoyer UK).

The firm warned that petroleum distribution remained "a challenging and turbulent operating environment" and of "an increasing threat from low cost operators whose aggressive behaviour is having some effect".

It also cautioned that there was an industry-wide shortage of skilled managers and drivers.

In December 2012 Hoyer acquired the bulk liquid division of Dutch logistics giant De Rijke, including its operations in Preston Brook, Cheshire.

By Andrew Stone.