Latest acquisition marks new era for Pall-Ex - Cranleigh Distribution 1-min

Pall-Ex has purchased the pallet distribution business of Surrey-based member Cranleigh Freight Services.

This is first acquisition Pall-Ex has made since its management buy-out in November last year and its fourth acquisition of a network member. The other three are Shears Brothers (Transport), Intercounty Distribution and Pall-Ex London.

This latest purchase has been bought through a shell company owned by Pall-Ex and will trade as Cranleigh Distribution Services.

The deal sees the acquisition of the pallet distribution business of Cranleigh Freight Services, along with a fleet of around 20 trucks and half of the premises of the Dunsfold-based company.

All 20 staff, including the management team, will be retained, with Colin Hawkins, MD of Shears Brothers, which Pall-Ex bought in 2017, also taking on the role of MD of Cranleigh Distribution Services.

Kevin Buchanan told MT the new acquisition will remain on the same site in Dunsfold.

“It will keep its local identity and local trade and it has retained all of its customers since the acquisition,” he said.

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Buchanan said the acquisition was prompted by the decision of owners Colin and Pauline Young to refocus the business on its core European specialist events division and two-man nationwide home delivery operation.

“The restructuring of Cranleigh Freight Services creates a profitable model with improved profitability for them as well as the new wholly-owned subsidiary of Pall-Ex, Cranleigh Distribution Services.

"This is a stable, high-calibre business which unlike our previous acquisitions is in good shape with a good management team already in place,” he said, adding that the three previous purchases had initially proven “more difficult than expected” due to a “vacuum of management knowledge when we took them over".

Asked about future plans for Cranleigh Distribution Services, Buchanan said: “We plan to grow the business, which has been fairly flat in terms of growth, and increase pallet volumes as well as diversify into storage and other haulage solutions to give customers a one-stop shop solution, as we have done with our other acquisitions.”

He said no other acquisitions are planned but added: “I cannot say it will never happen again, if for example, there were no other solutions to ensure coverage in an area but our model of allowing our members to have a genuine say in how the network is operated, will, we hope ensure we attract enough new members not to have to face that problem.”