The UK tops a list of countries road transport firms are considering expanding their operations into, according to legal firm DWF.

Its survey found that despite the unprecedented challenges of the last year, haulage firms across Europe are looking ahead to expansion.

Of those polled that transport goods to the UK, 38% said their company was currently considering relocating or establishing new bases here.

Italy was second (31%) and Germany third (30%).

DWF said that while the desire to expand into other European countries was partly driven by opportunity, some companies were being forced to reconsider their business models due to changes in rules relating to drivers’ hours.

The new EU regs mean operators will have to organise the workloads of international drivers to ensure they return home more regularly.

Vikki Woodfine, DWF partner and head of road transport, said: “Our survey clearly shows that European road transport decision makers are gearing up for expansion and change.

“There has been a period of consolidation and change in the market in this turbulent year, and as things settle down, opportunities from the reshuffle of the market emerge.

“It is positive to see a strong appetite to expand into the UK logistics market, despite Brexit and border concerns this year. Some of this will be driven by the opportunities arising from a post-Covid, post-Brexit market, others are driven by the need to react to EU regulation changes requiring drivers to return home more regularly.”

The survey of 250 hauliers also found that 39% saw Brexit and the lack of free movement as a concern and 42% considered the complexity of setting up operations in the UK to be a barrier.