Harlequin Logistics expands its UK-wide capacity

Harlequin Logistics has experienced a big increase in fleet size and capacity as a result of recent changes in shareholder operations.

Following the acquisition of John Raymond Transport by Nolan Group, and R.Swain's purchase of Jeffrey's Haulage, Harlequin's five shareholders now operate close to 2,000 tractor units from 25 sites.

This is an increase of around 30 per cent on the levels at which Harlequin's five operating partners have performed since the haulier collaboration was launched in 2011.

The joint venture business, which is also co-owned by Currie European, Prestons of Potto and Jack Richards, competes against the big players in the UK ambient haulage market for large contracts.

And following these changes, director Ben Gregory believes it is better placed than ever to provide manufacturers with a UK-managed, privately-owned alternative to the big boys.

"Nolan is a very well respected business with a family ethos, much like our other shareholders," he says.

"As well as beefing up our capacity this side of the water, their involvement in Harlequin also gives us a strong presence in Ireland for the first time."

Nolan Group's Richard Nolan, who now sits on the Harlequin board alongside one representative from each of the other four businesses, Gregory, founder Paul Smith and chairman Tom Barrie, believes his company is a good fit with the Harlequin group.

"I've met a number of like-minded people in Harlequin so far," he says, "and am pleased they see our Irish operations as something which adds value to the business.

"The merger of Nolan and John Raymond operations in England and Wales has created a more flexible and robust situation, and that also can only help Harlequin."

R.Swain's acquisition of Jeffrey's gives their East Midlands operation a shot in the arm through the addition of over 100,00 square feet of warehousing plus 35 units and 60 trailers.

Group MD Paul Kavanagh believes this is a good fit both geographically and in extending his company's ever-expanding involvement in Harlequin's core curtain-sided general haulage market.

"This acquisition fits with our strategy to acquire businesses in targeted growth sectors," he says.

"It complements our existing depot structure and strengthens our position in the Midlands through the consolidation of operations on one Swadlincote site.

"We are now very well placed to service customers in the main conurbations."

Gregory accepts his company and its shareholder hauliers are flying in the face of trends set by the big logistics companies, but says there is method in their madness.

"It's true that while all the big PLC's are taking general haulage vehicles off the road, our shareholders are putting more on it," he says.

"We believe the only way to guarantee performance levels to a customer is to have a vehicle and driver you actually control. However well-packaged and glossy the big boys make their 4PL offerings look, history tells us there is no substance to them whatsoever in service reliability terms."

"When shippers start to question how poorly they are being serviced by the sub-contractors the 4PL's are now totally reliant upon, we are now better placed than ever to offer a viable, reliable alternative."

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