Pallet networks buying member hauliers is a trend the sector will “definitely see more of” in the future, say the heads of Palletline and Pall-Ex.

Both networks recently bought member operators to avoid losing their services when the owners retired.

Palletline earlier this month bought ABE (Ledbury), which joined the network in 1994 and covers the WR, HR, LD and part of the SY postcodes.

Bournemouth Airport-based Shears Brothers and the logistics arm of Basildon, Essex-based operator Bowden Transport, which between them service 11 postcode areas, were last month bought by Pall-Ex.

Pall-Ex MD Kevin Buchanan told the purchases follow a sector-wide trend.

“The current state of the transport industry is that many founders or owners of haulage companies are now of retirement age with no natural succession and nobody to take over the business,” he said.

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Palletline MD Graham Leitch said: “All networks are having to consider [member acquisition] and we’re no different. I think it is something we’re going to see more of. I don’t see anyone owning 100% of their memberships. It’s about protecting the network in difficult trading areas,” Leitch added.

“I don’t see us owning a huge number, I’d say it would be in single figures.”

Buchanan said Pall-Ex wasn’t looking to buy any more businesses, but “in particularly challenging geographical areas we, like other pallet networks, will acquire certain members if no other quality haulier option is available”.

Leitch declined to comment on future Palletline acquisitions, but said: “I do expect there to be others, later this year possibly.”