Elddis Transport buffered from recession by cost control

Elddis Transport says tight cost control is protecting it against the full impact of the downturn, despite a minor fall in profit.

The Consett, County Durham-based company recorded a 2% drop in pre-tax profit to £284,000 in the year to 31 December 2009 on turnover that fell 11.7% to £21.5m.

MD Nigel Cook says: "We've pretty well held the status quo and, given the current conditions, our position is where we would hope to be."

The company's revenue was hit by general contraction of the economy, lower fuel prices that reduced the rates paid by customers, and by relocation of an unnamed major customer away from the North-East.

But fuel efficiencies and a reduction in headcount by 18% to 265, achieved through both natural wastage and redundancies, helped it to limit the effects.

"Our control of costs has helped us to remain profitable and is part of a continuous improvement policy," Cook says.

"The market is still a long way from getting back to where it was and we have positioned the business well for that. We also own most of our assets, which is an advantage."

Elddis maintained its overall fleet number of 165 vehicles and 280 trailers, but replaced 25 of each and invested in telematics and performance-monitoring solutions. A contract renewal with SCA Hygiene was announced last month and it has moved into new areas of business, including caravan storage.

"We will continue to look for other opportunities, although transport will remain our core focus," Cook explains.

RHA members get a speedy recovery

Road Haulage Association (RHA) members involved in a breakdown or traffic incident should see their vehicles recovered more quickly as a result of an agreement between the Highways Agency (HA) and RHA Rescue.

A new 'hotkey' service will see the HA's National Vehicle Recovery Service (NVRS), which is run by FMG Support, fast-track through private recovery arrangements for RHA members.

Now, under the hotkey agreement, if a traffic officer is informed that a driver of a broken-down vehicle is a member of RHA Rescue, the HA will have to notify it immediately.

NVRS manager Gary Bacon believes the new system should speed up the whole recovery process, clearing the road for all other drivers. "The new arrangements will also provide two-way communications between our control rooms and RHA Rescue, giving our traffic officers better intelligence on recovery times and arrangements," he explains.

Geoff Dunning, RHA chief executive, adds: "When time is money, the speedy recovery of a vehicle is of paramount importance to both the driver and the employer. To that end, the RHA considers the hotkey really will get the operator's show back on the road."

RHA Recovery is managed by Lantern Recovery Specialists.