From the Frontline: Toby Ovens MD of Broughton Transport Solutions talks about how COVID-19 is affecting his business

Will Shiers
March 19, 2020

Broughton Transport Solutions, the Broughton Gifford, Melksham-based temperature-controlled and ambient haulier has reported considerable gains in its pallet network traffic following the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, writes Tom Cunningham. MD Toby Ovens told CM week commencing 9 March saw the firm handle 3,440 pallets, up from 3,060 the week before which was also an all-time record.

The firm which operates 29 trucks and 30 trailers (nine of which are rigids) is a member of both UPN and TPN networks, covering BA, SN, SP and GL postcodes. TPN saw the most significant jump in volume with 1,469 pallets delivered. “Last month we were putting in an average of 220 pallets a night, now it’s 262 across both networks. We have seen similar increases on the input side too,” Ovens told us, who operates seven nightly trunks to hubs in the Midlands split between both networks. 

He said the increase has not been down to consignments of hand sanitiser or toilet rolls, but decorative stone, bagged compost and other gardening related supplies. “I can only assume people self-isolating will be digging their gardens.” Ovens also reported a lot of new customer gains for Broughton Transport, leaving the fleet stretched to capacity. He also noted backload websites are showing hundreds more available loads than usual.

Given the uncertainty, he thinks managing liquidity for all small to medium-sized businesses should be the priority. “If it carries on like this, we will see the best trading period ever. That said, I would exercise caution in being too jubilant. The next couple of months is going to be interesting for us all. If the country does go on complete lockdown, it will drop off a cliff,” Ovens concludes.

CM would like to hear from any vehicle operator willing to tell us what experiences they are currently going through on the frontline. If you have a story to tell, please email

About the Author


Will Shiers

Will Shiers has held an HGV licence since the age of 21, and has been writing about commercial vehicles for the past 25 years. He started his career as technical editor on Motor Transport, before taking on the editorship of Truck & Driver. Since 2011 he has been the editor of industry leading weekly publication Commercial Motor. Will is the UK jury member of the International Truck of the Year.

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