McColls: Pure Logistics was never going to work

One of Australia’s most successful transport companies has gone back to the future by reverting to its traditional name as it continues another growth phase.

McColls has been operating under the Pure Logistics brand for the past year after the family business and the Scott’s Refrigerated Freightways company were purchased simultaneously by ABN AMRO Capital in late 2005.

Last week, the Cold Chain division of Pure Logistics (largely the former Scott’s operations) was placed in receivership under KordaMentha, which plans to sell the business as a going concern.

The chief operating officer of McColls, Peter Williams, said that since the ABN AMRO purchase, the two companies had operated under separate managements and were quite different businesses. The McColls business was in dairy, bulk chemicals, general food and general freight, while the Cold Chain business was in refrigerated and frozen goods as well as general freight.

“It is also true that our business was not as much exposed to fuel price increases because the refrigerated transporters are running two engines – one for the vehicle and one for the freezer,” Mr Williams said.

“There was never much opportunity for synergies between the companies and it is reasonable to expect that both will do better from now on.

“From McColls point of view, it was probably a mistake to abandon a 56-year-old brand that was synonymous with great service and success in the haulage industry.

“So now the name is back in business.”

Mr Williams said revenue had grown 30 per cent in the past two years and the company was on track to repeat that performance over the next two years.

The company was expanding from its traditional eastern seaboard operations. It had purchased the South Australian wine transporter Valley Transport last year and was looking at Western Australia for further expansion.

The company had also appointed Robert Thomas as sole director of the company. Mr Thomas is chief executive officer of Greyhound Australia.

Mr Thomas said: “We are now back as a strong independent logistics player and will be assembling a new Board to drive the business into the future. We have a strong general management team who have delivered many wins over the past few years.

“Several parties have expressed interest in investing or acquiring the McColls business. The Board will consider all options, but the management focus is on delivering customer service and pursuing new contract opportunities.”

Mr Thomas said the Board and management were committed to fleet renewal, facility improvement, systems upgrades and development of people.

McColls has 1400 staff, about 200 prime movers and around 360 tanker combinations.


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