Wincanton flowers

The chief executive of Wincanton does not expect a wave of consolidation in the UK road transport sector, arguing that recent high-profile acquisitions have been standalone deals rather than part of a trend.

Colman told he thought M&A activity – such as XPO’s purchase of Norbert Dentressengle last year – were just strategic moves for individual businesses, rather than a trend for consolidating the UK market.

He said: “There have been a number of transactions, but I don’t think they’ve been driven by trend to invest in UK logistics. With XPO and Norbert Dentressengle, I don’t really see strategic logic in it. I think it’s a financial transaction that worked for XPO.

“The same for Imperial [Holdings] and Palletways, that felt more like it was a trend of Imperial’s strategy to invest outside of South Africa, rather than saying UK logistics is the place it wanted to invest in.”

Colman added that “Wincanton is not for sale” at this time.

Wincanton’s half year results show a 3.6% drop in turnover to £561.8m, which Colman said was a result of exiting unprofitable contracts and the sale of its records management business last year.

However pre-tax profit grew by 52% for the half year ended 30 September 2016 reaching £19.6m. This, said Colman, was because of a strong performance from Pullman Fleet Services.

Colman said: “Overall I was really pleased with the performance of the group.

"The [records management] business we disposed of last year was a good profitable business for the group, but we’ve been able to demonstrate that even without that business we’ve been able to get the absolute profitability of the group to keep moving in the right direction. So the underlying performance of the business has been very creditable.”