Maritime Transport wants to grow in the chilled distribution sector, after a successful start to its contract running Tesco’s Snodland DC contributed to a strong performance in 2017.

Taking over from Wincanton, Maritime began delivering chilled produce to Tesco stores in the South London area a year ago, and MD John Williams said that “given the opportunity, we would like to win more business like this”.

On why the operator made its first move into chilled distribution, Williams said: “Tesco decided to tender out the operation, and we felt that we had the skill to be able to bring efficiencies that didn’t exist before because we have an operation that sits in parallel in Medway, which means that we can integrate some of that work and utilise the trucks for longer and harder.”

The operator closed the year ended 27 December with turnover of £253.7m, up 13% year-on-year on 2016’s £224.6m.

Its pre-tax profit also grew by 13% to £6.6m (2016: 5.8m).

Williams told MT: “These are challenging times for everybody in transport, especially with the driver shortage and uncertainties around Brexit.

“But I think our people are working exceptionally hard and I think our network is working to our advantage.”

The driver shortage is of particular concern to Williams, who said: “There is no let up in the issue of drivers, and we have got to find more creative ways of retaining and rewarding and recruiting and it’s a constant battle."

Williams added that performance in Maritime’s ongoing financial year have been strong so far, and that he expects to see another year of growth.