More than 150 years after the family firm was founded, John Jempson and Son is to cease trading at the end of June and will transfer most of its 80-plus staff to XPO Logistics.

The liquidation marks the end of an era. The company was founded as a horse-drawn timber business in 1866 by Joshua Jempson. The current chairman is Jon Jempson.

The “difficult” decision to close the Rye-based firm is largely driven by the retirement of MD Mark Chamberlain, the company said in a statement.

Jempsons will go into liquidation on 30 June and the majority of its staff will be transferred to XPO Logistics. They will continue to work on distributing plaster, plasterboard and dry lining materials for building products manufacturer British Gypsum, which has been Jempsons’ principal client for many years.

Since 2019, the company has worked for British Gypsum as an XPO Logistics subcontractor, following the manufacturer’s decision to award XPO Logistics the contract to manage all its transport operations. Jempsons’ contract with XPO Logistics was set to expire at the end of June.

Jempsons was also a member of Pall-Ex and Fortec until February and has operating licences for 101 trucks and 212 trailers.

In its latest annual results to 31October 2023 the company recorded steady turnover at £14m (2022: £14m). However pre-tax profit dropped in the period to £35,066 (2022: £318,667).

In the strategic report to the results, Jempsons said that profit had fallen “due to unforeseen losses in a new element of business, which was not pursued and is deemed a one-off hit on profitability”.

In a statement confirming its plans to liquidate the company, Jempsons said: “John Jempson and Son has decided to enter members’ voluntary liquidation at the end of its current contract with XPO Logistics, which expires on 30June 2024.

“All suppliers and other creditors will be paid in full as part of the liquidation process.

“The business has already ceased membership of the Pall-Ex/Fortec pallet network, while Jempsons Commercials ceased trading in February 2024. Most of the fleet had moved to contract hire, which meant the R&M could only be done by the main dealers.

“We want to reassure our staff that the majority will transfer under TUPE to XPO Logistics on 1July 2024. For the remaining office team, redundancies are scheduled for July/August 2024 and we are committed to support them through this transition.

“The retirement of the MD, Mark Chamberlain, has been a major factor in reaching this difficult decision.”