Private equity firm Winch & Co is in talks to buy a third haulage firm as part of plans to build a group of five logistics and haulage companies within the next six to 12 months, the Leeds-based investor has revealed.

Winch & Co is also pumping £550,000 into Loughborough-based Eclipse Distribution, which it bought in October 2021.

The company said the investment will help bolster the haulier’s position and clear down legacy credit balances left by the outgoing management.

The equity firm has also injected £250,000 into Cramlington-based Dedicated Transport Solutions, which it bought in April this year, along with the firm’s 250,000 sq ft industrial estate.

The £550,000 investment into Eclipse Distribution follows a bumpy ride since its acquisition last year. The management teams of both Winch & Co and Eclipse Distribution said this week that the transition “hasn’t been as smooth as other acquisitions”, with the company experiencing a “tumultuous time” which has seen the driver shortage crisis, fuel price hikes and the cost of living crisis, brought on by disrupted supply chains because of the war in Ukraine.

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Nathan Winch, chairman and chief executive at Winch & Co, said: “Eclipse has been a challenge, but in many ways I have fallen in love with the business and its incredible people, especially the drivers.”

He added: “The team have been incredible in helping to steady the ship, and my management team back at base have worked so hard to input their knowledge and certainly put their skills to the test.”

Debra Hart, Winch & Co chief commercial officer, said: “Eclipse has had its challenges, but with the new investment approved by head office, we have already been able to stabilise the firm. It has also allowed us to think about growth and better integration with our other transport businesses.”

Shaun Swinburn, Winch & Co chief operating officer, added: “Operationally we have had challenges with Eclipse and its key customers. We are grateful they have stuck with us during this tough time and they tell us they are seeing the improvement in service already.”

Winch & Co acquired Cramlington-based Dedicated Transport Solutions and its 250,000 sq ft industrial estate in April 2022, and is in now talks with a third candidate.

Winch & Co said these form part of the group of five logistics and haulage companies that the firm plans to have purchased within the next six to 12 months.