Clugston Distribution Tanker

The government should stimulate the economy by creating a quantitative easing programme for people rather than banks, according to Clugston Group CEO Stephen Martin.

Speaking to this week about the annual results for Clugston’s logistics arm, Clugston Distribution Services, Martin expressed frustration at the lack of government financial support for trainee HGV drivers.

This is something the RHA has campaigned for seemingly only to be rebuffed by the government.

He said: “We want to get young drivers on board but it’s a prohibitive cost for young people and we can’t pay for everyone’s training.”

Asked if the government should do more, Martin added: “It should have a quantitative easing programme that gives money to young people and families across the country to spend on education and training - that would stimulate the economy far more than giving all that money to the banks.”

Martin, who appeared in the TV series Undercover Boss in 2008, said training was a key pillar at the company. “The thing I learnt from that experience was the importance of training and mentoring our staff and creating a good working environment to retain staff,” he said.

Clugston Distribution Services has recently taken on seven new apprentices to work in its commercial vehicle maintenance department, which has grown rapidly after clinching R2 dealership status with Renault Trucks last year.

“We interviewed so many good, local, young people with fantastic attitudes that we took on more than planned but we see it as an investment for the future,” said Martin.


Turning to Brexit, Martin said Clugston Distribution Services had felt the impact before the EU referendum, with clients and potential clients delaying investment decisions or reviewing their internal logistic operations.

“One month on from Brexit, this is still the case."

"But we’ll not let that stand in our way. We will be marketing the business heavily, promoting our highly trained, professional drivers and a health and safety record that’s second to none,” he said.

Turning to the results, Martin said Clugston Distribution Services had delivered a major profits turnaround in the year to 31 January 2016, delivering a pre-tax profit of £207,660, up from a pre-tax loss of £338,254 in 2015.

Turnover also rose to £16.3m, up 5% on the previous year (2015: £15.3m), with Martin predicting turnover would pass £17m this year on current performance.

Martin said key factors driving the turnaround were an ongoing efficiency drive; strong growth of its petroleum distribution business which, four years after launch now delivers 23% of distribution services' revenues; the strong performance of its commercial vehicle maintenance department and a focus on long term customers at its cement operations.

Looking forward, Martin said Clugston Distribution Services will invest £1.2m in its fleet, expand its petroleum services into the Midlands and launch an efficiency drive at its bulk food operation this year.