Ballymena transport group McBurney acquired by Danish shipping giant for £138m

Ballymena-based McBurney Transport, which is being sold to Danish shipping giant DFDS for £138m.

ONE of the north’s biggest transport companies has been acquired by a Danish shipping giant.

Ferry and logistics operator DFDS announced an agreement to acquire 100 per cent of McBurney Transport for £138 million on Thursday.

The Ballymena-based company, which is owned by Norman and Lynn McBurney, employs around 800 people across eight locations.

It comes just two months after the logistics specialist posted a record £11.5m in pre-tax profit for 2021.

Despite the performance, McBurney’s commercial director Paul Jackson, told a House of Lords committee in October that the business had been negatively impacted by the Northern Ireland Protocol, which came into effect at the start of 2021.

“The Northern Ireland Protocol for us as a company has been a complete disaster. It simply does not work for our customers,” he told the committee.

McBurney’s operation typically involves transporting around 100,000 trailers across the Irish Sea each year.

DFDS is northern Europe’s biggest shipping and logistics company, operating on 30 routes. It already has facilities in Belfast, Dublin, Cork and Rosslare.

The Copenhagen-headquartered business said the acquisition is part of its strategy to expand further into the island of Ireland and UK logistics network.

It expects the McBurney business to grow by another 30 per cent in 2022.

“The acquisition of McBurney Transport Group greatly enhances the scope of our customer offerings on the island of Ireland and in the UK, particularly towards the resilient food sector,” said DFDS chief executive Torben Carlsen.

“It also brings considerable scale to our existing operations in the region.”

DFDS is northern Europe’s biggest shipping and logistics company.

DFDS said McBurney will become part of the group’s cold chain business unit within its logistics division.

Commenting on the sale of the company he founded in 1965, Norman McBurney said: “By becoming part of DFDS we gain access to new development opportunities.

“I am certain the wider market coverage, including access to DFDS’ extensive transport network, will benefit our many longstanding customers.

“I am confident that our many loyal and dedicated employees will be comfortable and happy after this transaction."

McBurney’s operation spans three bases in Northern Ireland, one in Dublin, three in England and one in Scotland. It operates around 40 trucks and 1,360 trailers, of which 955 are refrigerated.

McBurney’s Liverpool cold store facility is capable of housing 25,000 pallets, while its 107,000 sq ft ambient warehouse in Northern Ireland, operated under its Bondelivery subsidiary, is focused on fulfilment for the retail sector and last mile delivery on the island of Ireland.

DFDS said closing of the transaction is subject to regulatory approval.