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WH Malcolm could so easily have been one of those small Scottish hauliers that disappeared without trace. Founded in 1920 by the grandfather of current chief executive Andrew Malcolm, his son (Andrew Malcolm’s father) leſt school at the age of 13 to help save the business on the sudden death of his father. Somehow, the company

survived and prospered sufficiently to

be absorbed

by Grampian Holdings in 1960 and, when that diverse organisation began the process of breaking itself up (as most of the conglomerates of that era eventually did), it was taken back into private ownership. Today, the Malcolm Group consists of Logistics and Construction arms. “Actually, for many years,

Malcolm Logistics was the poor relation,” Andrew Malcolm recalls. “The construction part of the business was my father’s first priority.” Nevertheless, Malcolm

Logistics has grown into a mighty organisation – by UK, let alone Scottish standards. Andrew Malcolm says he is not interested in market share for its own sake, but with 5m sq ſt of warehousing north and south of the border and a truck fleet of 386 vehicles – 300 of which are double-manned – it is a force to be reckoned with. The latest addition to WH Malcolm’s warehousing portfolio

is due to open later this year – 180,000sq ſt at Glenrothes. Other locations include the massive ‘campus’ at Linwood, Newhouse near Motherwell and Grangemouth - virtually all WH Malcolm’s Scottish facilities are in the central belt of the country as it can reach almost anywhere it needs to within a driver’s working day. The Glenrothes site will

service a number of customers in the beverages and other sectors, and is in line with the company’s policy of steady growth, Andrew Malcolm explains. “As a private company, we invest very heavily back into the business; we are not so keen on growth through acquiring companies.” The Scottish logistics property

market was fairly fluid until recently, he adds, but space has become scarcer. The Glenrothes site is in fact a 1970s-built development that has now been ‘Malcolmised’ to the company’s requirements. “With the recession, there wasn’t the level of speculative building as in the past, so quality property has become harder to get,” Andrew Malcolm explains. WH Malcolm has added to its

trailer fleet for the first time in 15 years. However, that hides the fact that the company has been sweating its assets, for example by double-manning most of its trucks. The company is now one of the largest operators of the

extra-long trucks of 14.6 or 15.6 metres that were sanctioned by the Department for Transport on a trial basis a few years ago. Take- up in the haulage industry as a whole was initially quite sluggish, although all the


licences have now been used. “The trailers weren’t cheap, and there are one or two downsides – for example, one of the conditions of the licence is that you must record the mileage that the trailer does for government statistical purposes.” In theory, the government could also end the trial in ten years’ time, though must people think that is fairly unlikely. The plus side is around 15%

extra trailer volume and, in the case of WH Malcolm, the ability to carry a new design of 53-foot containers – it currently has 40 such units on trial and is in the process of acquiring about the same number again. The containers are carried

on the daily return services that operate from WH Malcolm’s main English rail hub at Daventry to each of its Scottish terminals at Grangemouth and Mossend. There is also a daily intermodal rail service from Grangemouth to Aberdeen and a seasonal service between Grangemouth and Linwood, which is currently not operating. The latter service, believed to be Europe’s shortest rail container haul, comes into play at peak times when whisky

The UK’s other Golden Triangle

Europa Worldwide Group’s Europa Road arm is seeing rapid growth at its Scottish branch in Coatbridge, Glasgow. Turnover grew by 22% in the year to May 2015, which yielded an almost 20% increase in its European freight volumes. Although Northamptonshire is

recognised as the ‘golden triangle’ of distribution and logistics

because of its road network connections with the M1, M6 and M42, Scotland is establishing itself as area of increasing opportunity for the industry,

branch manager, Alan Green. “From our experience I’d say

Scotland is becoming a new centre of

logistics – particularly along the central belt of Glasgow, says Glasgow

Edinburgh and Fife. We’ve grown year-on-year here but in the last 18 months we’ve seen our fastest growth yet. The market is buoyant and key industries driving that growth, such as life sciences and alternative energies, are being subsidised with grants and government funding, so we would expect to see this continue.”

Issue 5 2015 - Freight Business Journal

Steady growth is key to WH Malcolm success

exports are in full spate and the port of Grangemouth gets busy; the trains can go straight into the port, while trucks have to queue. The rail business is “holding

its own,” says Andrew Malcolm, but it is a fixed cost and further expansion depends entirely on whether the trains can be filled. WH Malcolm likes to run its

John G Russell is one of the biggest names in Scottish freight, but the biggest event for the company currently is taking place 400 miles to the south. Having started a trail train service from Dourges (near Lille) to Barking via the Tunnel and the High Speed 1 rail link in November, the company has confirmed that the service will become permanent and will going to full capacity shortly. The service, Russell’s first


trains pretty full; while current percentage utilisation is in the 90s, Andrew Malcolm would like to get the figure as close to 100% as possible.

Trial train to become permanent

international rail operation, is being operated by Eurotunnel rail subsidiary Europorte with


from GB Railfreight

and is now operating daily from Monday to Friday.

DSV fights back

DSV Scotland is fighting back aſter its largest customer, Markinch, Fife-based paper- maker Tullis Russell went into administration in April this year. The Glasgow branch of the international logistics giant had been celebrating winning a major new piece of outsourced business worth around £10m a year when the bombshell struck, forcing its logistics supplier to quickly regroup. DSV’s English depots at Purfleet and Tamworth have taken over planning of the services from Scotland, leaving the branch to focus on customer retention and growth. Despite this bad news,

Scotland as a whole is showing signs of

growth, says branch

manager and regional sales manager for Scotland, Peter Reid. “Our strategy is to focus on strengths, namely our skill sets and customer retention, and to begin to grow again,” he told FBJ. The food and drink sector are

especially promising area, and all the indications are that exports from Scotland are developing, thanks in part to increased government support. “There may well be opportunities for small firms that until now haven’t been aware of their export potential,” Reid explains. Outside the food and drink

sector, there are plenty of other small and medium-sized firms with export potential; even specialist companies in the paper industry, though clearly currency factors would make it difficult for a mass producer to compete in today’s market. “The main focus for us will be

the smaller firms,” explains Peter Reid. “Larger accounts tend to be controlled globally.” The other strand to DSV

Scotland’s strategy is to increase its UK domestic business. There is plenty of potential for ‘exports’ to England to help balance out north-south flows and fill trucks returning from Scotland.

BG adds Greenock to schedule

Peel Ports’ short-sea arm, BG Freight Line, is to launch services to the West Coast Scottish port of Greenock. Three 1,000teu ships will operate on a rotation - Rotterdam (Friday), Liverpool (Monday/ Tuesday), Belfast (Wednesday/Thursday), Greenock

(Friday), Liverpool (Saturday/Sunday) and Rotterdam (Tuesday). The carrier said that there was significant market demand, not only for the Rotterdam/ Greenock leg but also for connections to and from Liverpool and Belfast.

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