James Wilson

Palletways Group has been bought by South-African group Imperial Holdings in a transaction worth £163m.

The pallet network’s previous owner, Phoenix Equity Partners, purchased the company in 2004 when it backed CEO James Wilson's takeover.

At this point Palletways was 10 years old as a business with a definite UK focus.

Since then, the network has transformed itself into a pan-European network operating in more than 20 countries through a mix of directly owned hubs and line-haul agreements with domestic hauliers.

Based in Johannesburg, Imperial specialises in consumer and industrial logistics, and has said it will lend its support to the network’s current growth plans. These include further geographical expansion, technological innovation and growing its product and service offerings.

Wilson thanked Phoenix Equity Partners for its support, and said he was “delighted” to be working with Imperial.

He added: "The Palletways management team shares a common vision with Imperial and remains fully committed to the business as we pursue our strategy for further growth.

“This is an exciting opportunity for Palletways, and all its members, to build on our success.”

Imperial CEO Mark Lamberti said: “Palletways’ business model and geographic reach will be complementary to our existing services and networks in the logistics sector.

“We admire the past achievements of the management team and look forward to working with them to enhance Palletways’ presence and service in the UK and Europe.”

Imperial Holdings bought Mercedes-Benz dealership S&B Commercials in 2014 for £9m. The group said it made the acquisition to widen its dealership network and diversify its operation in the UK.