Amazon’s drive to use “cheaper hauliers” combined with “fierce" competition, tight margins and the driver shortage have seen Currie Solutions' pre-tax losses almost quadruple.

However, managing director Stephen Turner remained upbeat this week, insisting that the Dumfries-based haulage firm is going through a period of transition as it expands and develops its services, following the company's MBO in January this year.

Reporting its latest annual results to 31 December 2018, the haulier revealed a fall in turnover to £39.4m (2017: £39.9m) whilst pre-tax losses plunged to - £522,928 (£2017: -£130,900) in the period.

During the year the company's UK turnover fell from £26.8m to £25.1m. However European turnover fared better, rising from £13m to £14.3m.

In its strategic report to the results, the company, which has operating licences for 277 trucks and 953 trailers, said: “Amazon remains a key customer for the business but following their ongoing load allocation programme to source cheaper hauliers we have continued to lose volume.”

Currie Solutions, which changed its name from Currie European Transport in 2017, is a member of both Harlequin and Pall-Ex. It specialises in UK and European haulage and warehousing and employs around 265 staff.

The report said the UK market remained “extremely challenging”, particularly in Scotland where “fierce competition” for southbound loads had forced the company to reduce pricing to retain business. At the same time key customers had resisted rate increases in the period, “squeezing margins further”.

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On a more positive note it added that the firm had managed to win new business “from a range of new customers” despite the challenging environment and had introduced a new strategy aimed at “changing its direction of profitability," following the MBO which saw Turner purchase the company from owner Tom Barrie.

Despite reporting a loss for the third year the company said it has a “reasonable expectation” that it will continue to operate for the “foreseeable future” based on trading projections, the renewal of banking facilities in January this year and the support of parent company Currie International Holdings.

MD Stephen Turner told that the results were disappointing and followed a challenging trading year.

He added: "The UK market remains extremely competitive with the ongoing driver shortage having had a significant impact on the results during the year.

"UK sales have been consistent year-on-year but our European export services from the UK were affected by inconsistent / lower volumes and the weakening exchange rate played its part too as the Brexit uncertainties continued.

"As a result operating costs were constantly moving in an upwards direction which we were unable to recover from our customers. Our foreign subsidiaries did however perform ahead of expectation contributing to group profitability.

"Following completion of our MBO in January 2019 we started our new journey by acquiring two small regional transport companies, PS Ridgway of Dundee and Move-It Express of Livingston. In addition we have made two significant Board appointments in Kevin Huskie, MD Europe, and Shaun Greig, commercial director UK, who bring vast experience from the sector and are essential to us delivering on our growth aspirations in the years ahead.

"In August we opened our new Air & Ocean department headed by Steven Gillies and his team, all of whom have significant sector experience. The first two years post-MBO will be a period of transition as we continue the journey by steadily growing, developing and expanding our service range."