Welch transport

Cambridgeshire haulier Welch’s Transport has said that trading is on a “reasonably upward trend” after it saw volume improvements in its transport business in its most recent financial year.

Turnover fell slightly at £11.6m for the year-ending 31 December 2014, from £11.9m in the previous year. However, pre-tax profit rose by more than 14% to £118,753 compared with £103,809 a year ago.

However the figures include a contribution from its Duxford and Peterborough dealerships WTL Truck and Van Centres as well as its crane hire business. Excluding these contributions from group turnover, the transport and warehousing side of the business saw turnover rise to £9.9m, from £9.5m in the previous year.

MD Jim Welch told Motortransport.co.uk: “The relocation of our Cambridge depot has been demanding, and last year was a relatively disruptive year. We are seeing volumes improve and the market is quite busy.”

Welch said that margins had been squeezed by the combination of rising wages, due to the shortage of qualified drivers, and the fall is oil prices: “Our customers are not daft. If they see the fuel price collapse, they ask for the price of fuel to be dropped. This leads to more difficult questions with customers than we would have liked.”

He added that the fall in fuel prices had made customers resilient to price rises, which was damaging margins as it was having to pay more to ensure it had a pool of skilled drivers.

However the business has a strong cash position, with more than £450,000 in hand: “We run with cash in the bank,” says Welch. “We have been here for over 80 years across three generations, and we have been careful with what we have done with that money.”