Belfast Telegraph

Haulage firm buys freight forwarder in growth drive

By Margaret Canning

One of Northern Ireland's biggest haulage companies has announced a major acquisition.

The Woodside Group in Co Antrim has bought All-Route Shipping, which specialises in sending on freight from its base at Belfast's Harbour Estate.

It's understood a seven-figure sum was paid for the smaller company, which has a turnover of £6m. Woodside Group has a combined turnover of over £45m and employs 350 people, with the new deal expanding the workforce by 20.

Woodside Group director Mark Woodside said the acquisition would broaden its services for customers.

"The Woodside Group embarked on a strategic development plan in 2008 and moving into international freight forwarding was an integral part of that," he said.

"We are delighted that we were able to strike an attractive deal with All-Route Shipping. It means the Woodside Group can expand its transport and logistics services to more sectors and throughout the world."

Freight forwarding is a service provided by licensed transport companies which involves the company transporting a product from the start point to anywhere in the world.

A spokesman for Woodside said no jobs were being lost and All-Route Shipping would continue under its present management.

Woodside said plans were in progress to develop its sea transport and distribution, with an eye to doubling turnover in five years.

The group works in logistics across Ireland, UK and Europe.

Its fleet also provides specialist transport to the tanker, bulk, food and motor industries.

Meanwhile, truck hire firm Star Rentals has been bought over shortly after going into administration. Gaffer Group, which also owns Northern Ireland (NI) Trucks, has said it will invest around £2m in the new business. It will continue under the Star Rentals name.

Gaffer group chairman Stephen Sproule, said: "The limitation in credit has constrained the business's ability to invest in new vehicles and to seek out new business opportunities. We will bring a fresh perspective to the business."