R Swain & Sons has continued its acquisition spree with the purchase of Express Freight Services (Birmingham) this year, newly published accounts reveal.

The acquisition emerged in the directors' review of the business in the company’s annual results, which cover the year to 31 December and also detail major change in the boardroom.

Although R Swain has declined to name the acquired business, Companies House show that it became the majority shareholder in Tilbury-based Express Freight Services (Birmingham) in June 2018.

This is the family firm’s tenth acquisition since 1999 and follows the purchase of Gatwick Plant in October 2015 and Jeffrey’s Haulage in July 2016. The acquisition adds around 75 trucks to Rochester-based R Swain’s 500-strong fleet.

The purchase was made despite the operator’s pre-tax profit falling by more than half in the year to 31 December to £1.1m (2016: £2.8m). The company attributed the fall to “considerable pressure” from customers on rates. Turnover rose in the year by 8% to £49.7m (2016: £45.9m).

During the period R Swain & Sons left the Harlequin Logistics network but remains a member of Partnerlink.

Read more

The firm has also seen boardroom changes during the past 18 months, with the departure of MD Paul Kavanagh in October 2017 and finance director Ian Chapman in March this year. In August operations director for the south, Shaun Baker, resigned from the board.

Kavanagh was replaced by former Uniserve group director Matthew Deer in January 2018 with Stuart Rigby, former group finance director at civil engineering firm Knight Group, becoming finance director in June. Former BAP Group operations director James Wyatt joined the board as group operations director in July.

Group chairman Bob Swain told MT the firm had not publicised the purchase because “we never announce any acquisition”.

He added: “We try to make one acquisition per year depending on the size. This was our 2017/18 acquisition. We develop our business to improve the services we can offer to our customers.”

He said the boardroom changes followed Kavanagh’s decision to leave. “Paul left and we replaced him with Matthew Deer. That was a great acquisition and with that came the usual churn and so the finance director, who had the same ideals as Paul, left almost immediately.”

Swain added: “(Chapman) realised that what was Paul’s way of doing the work was no longer the way forward and so he left of his own accord, there was no pressure to leave.”

Looking to the future Swain said: “I am delighted that we have a very good team in place. It is onwards and upwards.”