The continuing rise in internet shopping and an increase in the carriage of hi-tech and high-value goods helped members of the Association of Pallet Networks (APN) deliver a strong performance in 2015.

The eight members delivered a total of 22.4 million pallets in 2015, up more than 8% on 2014's volume. Economy pallets, as a category, grew by almost 11% in the year.

“Confidence in the services offered by the networks has improved and we are seeing a change in the type of freight being handled in pallet networks, with increasing volumes of hi-tech, high-value products being carried,” APN chairman Paul Sanders said.

“The sector is now seeing the impact of the increase in e-retail,” he said.

The APN, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year consists of Palletways, Fortec, Palletline, United Pallet Network, Pallet Track, Pall-Ex, Palletforce and The Pallet Network.

Sanders said this latest set of figures underlined the strength of the pallet network model. “Over the last decade we have seen some of the most difficult trading periods in the UK’s history, yet we have seen significant growth in the sector.

“The pallet network model is resilient and even during the recent global economic crisis the sector rallied and has delivered growth in excess of 80% since we started benchmarking our services in 2007.”

Sanders also paid tribute to FairFuelUK, confirming the APN will continue its financial support of the campaign.

“To date FairFuel UK has been credited with stopping all fuel duty increases that were planned in this Parliament. We estimate this has saved our members in the region of £30m," he said.

He also warned ahead of the Budget (16 March) about any return of the fuel escalator, which he said would deliver “the biggest crisis ever seen in the road transport sector”.