R Swain new pic (3)

R Swain & Sons defied adverse weather conditions to boost turnover by almost a third and pretax profit by close to three quarters last year, helped by its acquisition of Express Freight in June 2018.

In its annual results to 31 December 2018 the family firm, which is based in Medway, Kent, announced a 32% rise in turnover to £65.4m (2017: £49.7m) and a 73% uplift in pre-tax profit to £1.9m (2017: £1.1m).

R Swain & Sons, which is based in Rochester, Kent, is the largest flatbed operator in the UK and specialises in heavy haulage, specialist lifting, container haulage, bulk solutions and general haulage.

The company, which employs around 600 staff, operates a fleet of around 500 vehicles and has depots in Rochester, London Gateway, Manchester, Swadlincote, Hatfield, Horley, Swinton and Tilbury.

Speaking to motortransport.com, managing director Matthew Deer, said that the firm’s acquisition of Express Freight Services (Birmingham) in June 2018 had played its part in boosting turnover.

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However Deer said adverse weather conditions created by the “Beast from the East” in March 2018, which hit the family firm’s construction logistics arm, combined with “volatility” in the market, created by the uncertainty surrounding Brexit and fuel price rises had made 2018 “a difficult year”.

Deer added: “However it was a difficult year for everyone and we kept hold of our customers – we are a transactional business, 60% - 70% of our business is transactional – it’s all about adding value to our vertical markets.”

Express Freight Services (Birmingham) is R Swain & Sons tenth acquisition since 1999 and follows the purchase of Gatwick Plant in October 2015 and Jeffrey’s Haulage in July 2016.

Asked if there is an eleventh purchase in the pipeline Deer said: “Not at the moment but if the right opportunity comes along we will consider it, as we like to diversify our business.”