New Watchdog data reveals the UK transport and logistics sector remains on the right track

Figures released in the latest quarterly Creditsafe Watchdog Report show promising signs of growth for the UK’s Transport and Logistics sector, as the total value of sales, number of employees and number of active companies all increased year-on-year.

The sector’s total sales figures grew by 6.3% to £210bn between July and September this year when compared to the same period a year ago. Additionally, the number of active companies increased by 13.2% to 128,861, while the number of employees working across the various facets of the industry also increased by 15.8% year-on-year to 1.4m.

In yet more positive news, the number of failures recorded across the sector fell by 28.2% against the same quarter a year ago, with 155 failures occurring in Q3 2018. However, when comparing the results between quarters, the number of company failures remained steady, decreasing slightly by 1.9%. Notable failures from this quarter included bankrupt airline Air Berlin PLC, as well as Felixstowe-based warehousing and national distribution company, BAP Transport Ltd.

Rail and bus operator First Group, the subject of a takeover offer from US private equity firm Apollo Management earlier in the year, regained the top spot for the fastest growing company across the sector. The operator held the same position in Q3 2017.

Breaking down the figures further, the results for the Road Transport sector specifically make for positive reading, with total sales increasing by 7.4% compared to Q2 2018, while the number of newly formed companies increased by 21.2%.

The latest figures from Creditsafe show several warning signs have emerged for the sector, however, as the level of bad debt owed by the sector to its suppliers totalled £13.9m, an increase of 33.6% when compared to last quarter. Furthermore, the number of active companies dropped slightly by 1.6% between quarters, while over the same period the number of companies in the ‘high-risk’ financial health band increased by 3.4%.

Chris Robertson, UK CEO at Creditsafe, said: “It’s pleasing to see a period of continued stability in the Transport and Logistics sector, with our figures showing most of the industry performance indicators travelling in the right direction.

“For now at least, it seems the uncertainty from Brexit, where a no-deal outcome remains a very real possibility, has yet to have a significant impact on the industry. Nevertheless, it’s important companies are not complacent when planning for 2019, with the UK government warning businesses and individuals of likely disruption to aviation in particular.”

Creditsafe’s Watchdog Report tracks quarterly economic developments across transport and 11 other sectors (Banking & Financial, Construction, Farming & Agriculture, Hospitality, IT, Manufacturing, Professional Services, Retail, Sports & Entertainment, Utilities, Wholesale).

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