Owens (Road Services) Limited, which trades as Owens Group, saw pre-tax profit fall by more than half in the 12 months to 30 June 2023, in what the company described as a year of consolidation after “significant” growth.

Reporting its latest annual results the Welsh family-owned firm revealed that despite turnover rising to £110.4m, up from £106.9m in the previous year, pre-tax profit slumped to £2.7m, down 53% (2022: £5.8m) in the period.

Based in Llanelli, South Wales, Owens Group specialises in transport, warehousing and distribution and has been operating since 1972.

It employs over 1,000 staff and runs a fleet of 200 vans, 400 trucks, and 850 trailers, which operate from 10 depots. The company also has 2.5 million sq ft of warehouse space across 25 facilities.

In its strategic report to its latest results, the Pall-Ex member remained upbeat, stating that the directors are “delighted to report on another good year for the business, even with a more depressed trading environment across the country”.

It added: “After several years of consistent, significant growth the year under review was planned to be a period of consolidation and re-assessment and the resulting underlying trading performance has been very pleasing.”

The report also highlights BTS Haulage (BTS) which it acquired in July 2018 in a move aimed at widening the group’s operational network in the UK. The report states that “the directors have every confidence that BTS’ turnover and profitability will improve in the year to June 2024 and beyond”.

In its latest annual results BTS revealed turnover fell from £10.2m to £9m in the year to 30 June 2023, whilst pre-tax losses amounted to - £557,491 in the period, down from a pre-tax profit of £338,775 the previous year.

To help it return to profitability the group has implemented a strategy which will see BTS exit loss-making contracts, look to secure new work both from Owens Group’s existing customer portfolio and new contracts and align its activities with other Owens Group depots to generate operational efficiencies, according to the strategic review to BTS’ annual results..

Turning to Owens Group’s warehousing division the report said revenues remained “extremely strong” in the year which it attributed to its customer service levels and the “diverse” solutions the group offers.

The group also continued to boost its fleet in the period and is continuing to plough “significant additional investment” into it this year as well as developing a rolling planned capital expenditure programme.

“As a result of this the hire purchase liabilities have increased in the period from £15.8m to £16.5m and working capital requirements have largely remained static reflecting the profitability across the group,” the report noted.

Looking to the future, the directors are “very pleased with the overall results this year” and that they “believe that the group is well placed to respond to new opportunities and customer demand in order to continue to grow its operations and profitability, allowing for a period of consolidation after several consecutive years of significant growth”.

However it warned that although the outlook for the year to 30 June 2024 “remains positive” it said Owens Group has been impacted by the wider economic downturn across the UK.

The report explained: “Although the group has not been impacted significantly in terms of turnover, the group has not been immune to the cost pressures across the UK,” adding that it has seen an increase in supply costs over the past 12 months from December 2023 which has impacted margins.

As a result the group said it has rationalised its fleet and reviewed fleet efficiency and driver performance “to manage the impact on margins”.

It also pledged to continue to manage its cost base to ensure that the impact on the customer is mitigated “wherever possible”.

Despite these challenges, Owen Group remains upbeat with the report noting: “The group has good positive cash flow, strong reserves and a wide-ranging customer base that gives the directors confidence that the organisation is well placed to ride out the current situation and manage any economic and operational challenges that may follow.”

The report to the annual results makes no mention of an apparent cyberattack on Owens Group by ransomeware group LockBit. Details of the attack emerged on the dark web in November last year. The attack was designed to block access to computer systems in exchange for a ransom payment.

The alleged cyber attack followed a similar attack on KNP Logistics in June this year, which contributed to the firm having to call in the administrators in September.

LockBit posted a notice on its dark web portal at the time, stating that it had gathered 710 GB of the Llanelli-based company’s data relating to the company’s finance, employees and clients.

A request by MT for comment from Owens Group on its annual results has yet to receive a response.