British haulage businesses going bust ‘at a rate unheard of’

British haulage businesses going insolvent has jumped over the last two years as the fallout of the UK economy has pushed business to go bust.

Over the last 12 months, 463 haulage businesses went bust, more than double the number two years ago, according to a freedom of information (FOI) report obtained by accountancy firm Price Bailey.

The data shows that the number of haulage businesses entering insolvency across 2020/21 was 225, but that figure has risen by 173 per cent over 2022/23 to 463 insolvencies.

According to Price Bailey, a convergence of adverse factors is squeezing the haulage sector, including soaring overheads, driven by fuel and wage rises, coupled with interest rate hikes which have made servicing debt increasingly expensive.

Matt Howard, head of the insolvency and recovery team at Price Bailey said: “Business failures among hauliers are rising at a rate unheard of in more than a decade. We are seeing a perfect storm of high inflation and interest rates at a time when many haulage businesses are on life support.”

Soruce: Price Bailey

The firm also looked at credit risk scores using data from the Delphi Risk score by the Market IQ database.

London-based haulage businesses’ credit risk score showed that 41 per cent are currently classified as maximum risk, which was significantly higher than the 26 per cent figure 12 months ago. London-based haulage business credit risk scores are considerably higher than the national average.

Speaking to City A.M., Declan Pang, public affairs and policy director for England at Road Haulage Association said: “Hauliers operate on paper-thin margins — typically around two per cent so significant cost increases can put huge pressure on businesses across the supply chain.”

Pang explained: “We’ve seen the costs of operating a truck increase by more than 10 per cent this year with reduced road freight volumes and less demand as cost-of-living challenges continue.”

He added: “We’re urging the government to offer more practical support for our industry to slow cost hikes and boost the economy. We’re calling for an emissions-linked rebate to help operators switch to low-carbon fuels such as hydrotreated vegetable oil — and continuing the freeze on diesel fuel duty.

“We also want the apprenticeship levy reformed to help firms recruit and train new drivers and mechanics more cost effectively.”

Haulage businesses to have gone bust in recent months include Mark Stewart, based in Humberside (October), Knights of Old. Based in Northamptonshire (September) and Cross Transport in Birmingham (June).

“Business failures are likely to continue to rise throughout the second half of the year,” Howard said.


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