Maxi Haulage achieved a record turnover of £66.3m in 2018, but warned the impact of pre-Brexit stockpiling on its Irish operation will hit its current year's trading.

The Irvine-based haulier reported a 6.3% increase in turnover for the year ended September 2018 from £62.3m to £66.3m. Pre-tax profit leaped 41.8% from £1.4m to £1.9m.

However the company said that during the end of 2018 and into the early part of this year, it experienced ‘out of balance’, uneconomic traffic flows between the mainland UK and Republic of Ireland as Irish customers stockpiled ahead of the UK's original 29 March Brexit deadline.

This was exacerbated by a booming Irish economy, which saw some of the firm’s construction-based manufacturing customers reducing the amount they exported to the mainland in favour of meeting domestic demand, Maxi Haulage MD Alan Miles told

He said: “There was very high growth westbound to Ireland, with decline exiting Ireland, meaning more empties coming back, which meant losses on the round trip.”

Inconsistency of volumes was also a major challenge, Miles added, For example, between January and March, like-for-like, year-on-year volumes were up by 25% heading to Ireland, whereas between April and early June, like-for-like volumes were down 20%.

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In its strategic report, Maxi Haulage said it has taken steps to address the issue, however it remains uncertain as to how Brexit will affect its Irish business longer term.

The Irish market represents around 50% of turnover for Maxi Haulage, according to Miles.

The company wants to focus on growth this year in its mainland UK divisions, including a parts machinery distribution 'through-the-night' offering, as well as boosting its groupage and multi-drop work.

During the 2018 trading year, the business invested £3.5m in new fleet and plant machinery, including double-deck box van trailers designed for Ireland’s 4.65m height requirement to maximise capacity, built by Tiger Trailers; 40 new trucks for its parts distribution business, including Volvo, Renault and DAF models; and around 100 new trailers added to its general fleet.

It also continued with £1.1m investment in a replacement warehouse in Bellshill, new traffic office and welfare facilities.

Maxi Haulage has also introduced initiatives to help with driver recruitment and retention to combat the national shortage of qualified HGV operatives.

The firm's strategic report said the balance sheet continues to be strong, with no borrowings and significant reserves, which "allow us to continue to finance our growth from a position of strength".

Maxi Group chairman Gerry Atkinson said: “I am delighted with the performance of the group companies over the latest financial period and although there are challenges to meet, particularly in the haulage industry, we are on track to achieve our targets for the current financial year.”