Andrew Tinkler, Stobart Group

Back at the Motor Transport Awards 2012, at the height of July when the weather was hot, I had the pleasure of chatting with Andrew Tinkler. Stobart was in the process of acquiring Autologic and I asked him how it was going.

The Stobart boss said it was going well, and asked my opinion of Autologic's then boss: Avril Palmer-Baunack.

I said she had done well to steady the ship at Autologic - which had struggled at the thick end of the recession but was still the largest automotive mover in the UK by virtue of some pretty lucrative contracts and the weakness of its rivals.

Tinkler asked me if I thought she would stay. Without wishing to sound smug after the event, I said she wouldn't because I couldn't see her fitting in with the culture at Stobart.

He smiled, and seemed to indicate that I was wrong. Which I was [for a time].

A lot has changed since last summer. On the 31 January The Hub posed the question: So, who is really in charge of Stobart Group? The answer to that question is suddenly not so simple...

Now it appears that the answer to that question is pretty easy. It's Andrew Tinkler. Hands down. The Financial Times reports this morning that Tinkler has won the power struggle to control the group. It paints the well reported picture that Palmer-Baunack was supported by Stobart's leading shareholder, Invesco, which it claims wants to see Stobart Group sell its assets outside of its core transport business (Southend and Carlisle airports being the jewels in the crown). Tinkler wants a more integrated, and dare we say multi-modal strategy. Smaller in scale to rivals such as DHL, Kuehne+Nagel and the like but plenty of clout to take on Norbert Dentressangle, for example.

His only position of weakness now is Stobart's share price. The group has fallen out of the FTSE 250 and is about 20% cheaper than it was when Palmer-Baunack became executive chairman.

Reporting performance above expectations, and a three-year win with Tesco is a step in the right direction, but now Tinkler has control of Stobart Group firmly back in his grasp, it is what he does with it that is key.