Figures show Montgomery transport company is back on the right road
ONE of the north's largest haulage firms Montgomery Transport has turned a narrow 2014 loss into a profit of £1.52 million in the last year, helped by the declining cost of diesel.
Part of the Ballyvesey Holdings Group, which is owned by Northern Ireland family shareholders and has its headquarters in Doncaster, the Newtownabbey haulier had reported an annual deficit of £57,000 in 2014 but turned it right round in the 12 months to last September.
But it came on on a reduced turnover (£30m against £32.4m a year earlier), which was the only key performed indicators the company didn't hit.
The firm is owned by Harold Montgomery and family, who earlier this year were named in the Sunday Times Rich List for Northern Ireland with a net worth of £115m.
In a strategic report published alongside the accounts filed at Companies House in Belfast, the directors said they were "pleased" with the results.
"The company faced intense pressure in the year on rates from competitors in the highly competitive Irish Sea market," they said.
"But this was offset by the drop in fuel prices and our focus on fleet efficiency through our improved information system."
They added: "We will continue to identify and develop new business opportunities within the sector with a view to continued growth both organically and through acquisition."
However, the directors warned: "As with many businesses of our size, the environment in which we operate continues to be challenging, and the impact of static incomes, strong competition and rising costs of haulage present us with challenges.
"With this in mind, we are aware that any plans for the future development of the business man by subject to unforeseen events outside our control."
Although the UK's exit from the EU isn't directly referred to in the directors' report, which was filed two days before the referendum took place, there are fears that the leave outcome will have a hugely negative effect on the haulage sector.
A survey ahead of last week's vote painted a picture of an industry which would potentially be impacted on a number of fronts, including a driver shortage, new border controls, the current Calais crisis and the highest fuel duty in Europe.
Staff numbers at Montgomery Transport shrunk slightly from 293 to 283 over the year, which saw the company's wage bill fall back just under £100,000 to £7.55m.
Montgomery Transport's parent firm Ballyvesey - whose other subsidiaries in Northern Ireland include Dukes Transport (Craigavon) and JE Coulter - saw its turnover increase last year by 12 per cent to £612.9m.
There was a double-digit percentage increase too in group pre-tax profit, which soared from £3.3m to £4.6m. Profit after tax came in just shy of £3.5m while the shareholders' fund rose by 2.4 per cent to £113m.
As a whole, the Ballyvessey group, established in 1970, employs 2,665 people, the bulk of whom are drivers and mechanics (1,433 in all).