Maxi Haulage has delivered one of its largest pre-tax profits in the firm’s history, despite a “difficult and competitive” environment.

The Irvine-based haulage company, a subsidiary of Maxi Caledonian, saw pre-tax profit increase from £1.5m in 2015 to £2.3m in the year to 30 September 2016. Turnover rose from £55.9m to £56.2m in the same period, newly-published accounts show.

Speaking to MT, Maxi Haulage MD Alan Miles said the profit hike was down to the company divesting itself of low-margin contracts in favour of more profitable deals with new customers. It also reduced empty running rates and introduced its 'Triangle' strategy.

“We used to run quality loads from the North West to Scotland and then run low-margin stuff back down. Last year we changed that, so we now go across to Ireland from Scotland and then to England in a triangle, which allowed us to do away with one low-margin backload rate,” Miles said.

The company also addressed driver shortages by developing vehicle bases in regions with a greater supply of drivers, such as in Holyhead in North Wales.

This year [2017] the company has raised its drivers’ wages by 6%. Maxi Haulage is also expanding its fleet this year, which currently has 148 trucks and 630 trailers.

“We’ve just had 30 trailers delivered and a new prototype double-decker box van as well as eight new Volvo trucks, with more in the pipeline,” Miles said.

The firm is also benefitting from a staff development scheme, which Miles said had contributed to the company’s performance last year “because those people are now coming through the business”.

Looking ahead, Miles said the company continued to perform well but is not expected to match last year’s achievement due to increased driver salary costs and shipping rate rises.

Currency rates following the EU referendum are also affecting the firm’s outward-bound business from Ireland. “Our westbound business to Ireland is increasing but our ex-Ireland business is under pressure because we are carrying low-value products, and so the currency rates are starting to create issues.

“Another thing we have noticed is that some trade from mainland Europe has started to bypass the UK and is going straight to Ireland,” he added. “But in general Brexit has had no significant effect on our business.”