Bob Russett, chairman of Palletline Logistics, has highlighted the problems face by hauliers as a result of escalating fuel prices, and the impact these increases are having on the businesses across the UK.
Speaking at the Mansion House in London as the Master Carman 2010/2011 for the Royal Worshipful Company of Carmen, Russett said: “I am a fourth generation haulier and have spent all my working life in the industry. The last few years have been very difficult for most businesses in this country. The economy had a bit of a hiccup in the last quarter of 2010 but it does now appear to be heading in the right direction. The transport industry however continues to struggle. It is probably struggling as much now as it has at any time over mine and the previous three generations.
“Fuel equates to over a third of the operating costs of a haulage business, a very significant percentage. In spite of that, the cost of diesel should not matter to a haulier because all of the competition pays approximately the same price for fuel.
“However, the industry is very fragmented. Contrary to public perception there are only a few large hauliers. The vast majority are small operators, struggling to give a service and make a living. The average fleet size in this country is less than five vehicles.
“As a result, as an industry we have no collective bargaining, so are very poor at passing our increase in costs on to our customers, especially when those customers themselves are having their margins squeezed and may be struggling to survive.”
“We are an industry that needs supporting, not diminishing,” he said.