New business, better marketing and an emphasis on streamlining appear to have paid off for Cumbrian firm Stalkers Transport Services, which posted a pre-tax profit of just under £35,000 for the year to 30 September after two years of heavy losses.

Turnover fell from £6.7m in the previous financial year to £5.7m, but it made a profit compared to a loss of nearly £125,000 the previous financial year and an even more hefty loss of nearly £290,000 the year before that.

Describing the return to profit as “a marked achievement” for the family firm, director Karen Stalker said it was “a pointer to our successful business plan”.

That plan included establishing itself as a ‘northern gateway’ during the year with a consolidation and daily groupage service called 'Easy as ABC' for loads of all sizes between England and Scotland.

“We consider ourselves to be one of the most important northern gateways from the south,” Stalker told “We provide a valuable 24 hour drop-off point for other hauliers delivering into these areas, many of whom we back-load, allowing them to minimise their empty running. In addition, our on-site facilities offer their drivers the added bonus to rest and even have their vehicles checked in our own workshop and maintenance facility before they return to base. We are also able to offer customers a same-day delivery service.”

The Easy as ABC service means “customers with freight into Scotland have a daily, cost-effective, quality alternative to using a pallet network,” added Stalker."It is still early days but we have been delighted at the amount of interest we are receiving."

Stalkers also took a decision to leave the Pall-Ex pallet network during the year, of which it was a founding member. “Sometimes being part of a huge network can take up time, energy and attention which is ultimately better spent concentrating and focusing on growing your own business,” commented Stalker.

“2012 was about making our customers and sub-contractors aware of how flexible and adaptable we can be to meet their needs and this is already paying dividends,” she added.