The 2010 Motor Transport Top 100 rankings of UK transport companies makes slightly less depressing reading than last year’s league table. Despite a smattering of red ink in the latest pre-tax profit column, average profit shows a healthy increase and profit margins returned to close to 3% after languishing at sub-2% last year.


Turnover Latest£153,249,371
Turnover Previous Year£157,347,704
Profit Latest£5,917,295
Profit Previous Year£1,847,099
Employees Latest2,083
Employees Previous Year1,452
Number of Trucks1,006
Number of Trailers463
Number of Depots53
Sales per Employee£100,614
Profit per Employee£3,909
Return on Sales2.73%

While 3% isn’t exactly a licence to print money – Barclays Bank reported a 30% pre-tax margin in its latest interim accounts – it is more the sort of margin the transport industry has got used to surviving on.

Where it is harder to draw any meaningful conclusions are the numbers of employees and vehicles. With the boundaries between vehicle ownership, contract hire and rental continuing to blur, and employment via agencies rather than on the books more prevalent, stats on sales and profit per employee or vehicles become meaningless. DHL reported a 40,000 increase in employees last year compared with 2009, just because of internal restructuring.

One notable absentee from this year’s tables is Yodel, formerly HDNL, which hadn’t published its combined accounts following the acquisition of DHL’s domestic parcels business in time for inclusion in this year’s tables. Its combined turnover is expected to be in the region of £1bn, which would put it in the top three.

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