Fury over rumoured fuel duty hike

FairFuelUK (FFUK) has slammed chancellor George Osborne, amid rumours he plans to increase fuel duty for the first time in five years in next month’s emergency budget.

Howard Cox (pictured), head of the fuel duty campaign group, told CM that a Conservative backbencher had alerted him that the price hike was under “serious consideration”, and was likely to be declared in July. The chancellor is thought to be mulling linking fuel duty to the Retail Price Index, which would increase in line with inflation.

Cox said: “We’re on the offensive big time. We feel betrayed, considerably, because what Osborne’s trying to do is say that he’s still freezing duty but it’s going up with inflation. But that’s absolute rubbish. Osborne is betraying us if it’s true.”

Cox added that throughout the election period, Conservative representatives were instructed not to discuss the fuel duty freeze continuing, but to say that they had “delivered the longest fuel duty freeze in 20 years” instead.

Earlier this week, FFUK approached its 1.1 million members asking them to email their local MPs and demand they vote against the proposal. At the time of publication, 11,000 FFUK supporters had emailed their MPs.

In a statement on the campaign’s website, Cox said: “98% of the 1.1 million FairFuelUK supporters believe that current fuel duty levels are still too high, with 65% regrettably having no trust in Mr Osborne, believing he will increase this tax in his second term.”
The Sunday Times reported the proposed increases would generate an extra ?4.1bn for the Treasury by the end of the decade, based on figures from the Institute for Fiscal Studies think tank.

The campaign, which is backed by the RHA and FTA as well as the Association of Pallet Networks, recently welcomed Microlise to its list of commercial backers. It also has the backing of the RAC and UKLPG.

XPO Norbert deal completed

Norbert Dentressangle has been officially purchased by XPO Logistics. The deal to acquire the 67% of the business held by the Norbert family went through less than six weeks after an unsolicited €3.24bn (£2.3bn) offer was made by the US firm to buy the business outright.

While the fleet remains in its distinctive letter box red, the Norbert Dentressangle name will now be replaced with the legend #WeAreXPO on the trailer, while the XPO logo replaces the ND logo on the cab.

ND chief executive Hervé Montjotin, now chief executive of XPO’s European business, said: “Thanks to the speedy completion of this acquisition, we can begin our integration as part of XPO Logistics and fully commit to an ambitious business development plan, supported by a broader service offering and an expanded capacity for innovation”.

The new livery will make its debut during the Tour de France in July, with which ND has a long-standing logistics contract.
Montjotin told CM that the offer was a “golden opportunity” for the business – which has a turnover of €1.3bn in the UK alone – to be a global supply chain business.

“There has been no change in the way we service our customers and everyone is now pretty comfortable with it,” he insisted.
“We have been able to complete this in a short period of time. That is good news for us and for our customers. This has really limited the time that management could have been distracted. We are really convinced that we need to promote one single brand under XPO Logistics and the brand will switch immediately,” he said. “There is no room for two brands.”

Retaining the red fleet, however, is a visual representation of what Montjotin said the company stands for.

“We call it the red way,” he said. “We will keep the substance and the way we are used to managing our business. I am really convinced of this. We have experience in the industry, we are strong, we have driven people and we have commitment. The brand is the brand. What is important is the values.”

Outside of ND’s US contract logistics and haulage business, formerly Jacobson, there is little overlap between ND’s European presence and XPO’s North American footprint. This, said Montjotin, gives the new XPO Logistics a truly global reach and the opportunity to expand deeper into current markets.

“We really have room for organic development,” he said, but with XPO chief executive Bradley Jacobs, a veteran of over 200 acquisitions before he made the bid for ND, further spending cannot be ruled out. “We are very strong in the UK, Spain and France, Italy, the Netherlands and in these countries we will consider some bolt-on acquisitions,” Montjotin confirmed.