It has been another tumultuous year for the road transport industry, and one that has been littered with casualties. Firms that collapsed – sometimes in spectacular fashion – included E Pawson & Son, the Innovate group of companies, Macfarlane Transport Holdings, Amtrak, Page Group, JDR Distribution and Ramage Distribution.


Turnover Latest£162,151,460
Turnover Previous Year£131,447,610
Profit Latest£3,099,220
Profit Previous Year£2,893,355
Employees Latest1,472
Employees Previous Year1,293
Number of Trucks665
Number of Trailers732
Number of Depots72
Sales per Employee£102,125
Change in Sales per Employee6.43%
Profit per Employee£3,261
Change in Profit per Employee29.78%
Return on Sales3.30%
Such grim news has not, however, prevented other businesses hitting the expansion trail, sometimes by acquiring all or part of companies that have hit the buffers, or by acquiring healthy operations with an apparently-rosy future. Wincanton and Stobart Group in particular have expanded through acquisition over the past 12 months, indicating confidence in the long-term prospects for the economy despite current upheaval.

Wincanton occupies the number two slot in the Top 100 once again this year, with logistics behemoth DHL yet again at number one. Kuehne + Nagel is in third position, outpacing TNT and Ceva Logistics, with Norbert Dentressangle catapulted into sixth place thanks to its acquisition of Christian Salvesen.

Many transport companies still manage to achieve praiseworthy performances despite the pressures that beset the industry. Once again Turners (Soham) has come up with impressive return-on-sales figures, and the same can be said of Pentalver Transport, and Knowles (Transport).

All these companies have positive stories to tell when it comes to profit-per-employee too, as do Goldstar Transport and ECM among others.

With a tough 2009 to look forward to, one cannot help but wonder how many firms trading today will be around in a year’s time, and how many will have drastically cut back their operations. Well-run firms such as Turners however show that it is possible to win through, despite adversity – and when the economy hits rock-bottom, the only way is up.

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