Eddie Stobart drives back towards profit

Trucking firm tries to put accounting scandal behind it after a rescue deal last year

The owner of trucking business Eddie Stobart has returned to profitability and put an accounting scandal that rocked the business behind it, the company said.

GreenWhiteStar Acquisitions (GWSA), the holding company of Eddie Stobart, said the haulier had benefited from the pandemic as demand from customers increased.

The business added that it had left old loss-making contracts and signed new ones - most recently announcing a deal to shuttle products between Morrisons' distribution centres and stores.

Other wins include Hillebrand and McBride in the UK, with Nike and Amazon using the services of its EU business, it added.

GWSA executive chairman William Stobart said: "These results show we have put past challenges firmly behind us.

"The past six months have shown the strength of our differentiated business model, which has allowed us to grow existing customer relationships, win new business, return the GWSA Group to profitability and overcome challenges presented by Covid-19.

One of Eddie Stobart's distinctive trucks. The company has a fan following

"Looking ahead, we are confident that our renewed focus on our historic core capabilities as transport and logistics services provider for the FMCG and grocery sectors, and as a leading player in e-commerce logistics and fulfilment, will allow us to drive profitable growth going forward."

Mr Stobart, son of founder Eddie, retook control of the haulier following an accounting scandal last year when £2m was unaccounted for.

The problems led to an investigation over the auditors - KPMG and PwC - and saw shares in Eddie Stobart Logistics suspended.

A £55m rescue deal was agreed last December, which saw offshore private equity firm Dbay Advisors buy a 51pc stake in Eddie Stobart Logistics - installing Mr Stobart as chairman to oversee the turnaround.

In the six months to May 31 revenues fell 1.1pc to £416.5m and underlying pre-tax profits - which exclude any one-off costs - swung from a £6.3m loss to a £16.6m profit. It did not disclose statutory profits.

Net debt rose, however, from £236.9m to £242.7m due to the costs of the deal in December via a high-interest loan called a PIK note.

Bosses said they want to re-finance the loan "as soon as is practicable".

In May, Eddie Stobart lorry company agreed to buy the rights to its own name in a £10m deal aimed at ending confusion about the brand’s ownership.

Previously, the trucking company could only use the Eddie Stobart brand under licence from completely separate company Stobart Group, the London-listed owner of Southend Airport.

Under the agreement, the haulier took control of the name, with Stobart Group planning to rename itself.