North Staffordshire haulage firm forced to furlough 25 staff after 'worst month in years'

A haulage company which lost 90 per cent of its monthly turnover due to the pandemic is now back on the road to recovery. Talke-based Barry Proctor Services has been picking up new customers in recent weeks as the lockdown begins to ease. And with an investment of GBP50,000 in updating its computer system, drivers can keep in touch with the office through telematics.

But owner Barry Proctor fears other hauliers won't survive the crisis as their margins are simply too thin. He said: "There are too many people working for very little money. Some of the rates that I see are crazy and you wouldn't get out of bed for it."

When lockdown started, the firm put 25 of its 35 staff on furlough leave.

All the top stories daily

If you'd like the top stories of the days sent free to your inbox, we have you covered with a daily email. Sign up by clicking here. Or you can type your email address into the 'sign up to free daily alerts' box. It's at the top of this article.

Financially, the business suffered its worst month in years when the Government ordered building sites and all building work to stop in March. "In the early days of the lockdown, it was pretty dire in terms of the business. We were doing very little work.

Most of the sites were closed and so were the builder's merchants," added Barry. "Our turnover was 10 per cent of what it normally is, so it was pretty horrendous. In March, it was the first time we made a loss in years.

I wouldn't want to see that again. "You still have all the standing costs with the vehicles. We are in the fortunate position that everything we have got has been paid for.

Top stories on StokeonTrentLive

"I've got some vehicles on contract hire that we have got a three-month holiday because we haven't used them. There are still a lot of ongoing costs in terms of business rates and all sorts of other things. 

"When we do our accounts, we accumulate the staff and drivers' holiday pay, pensions still have to be paid and the vehicles have still got to be insured." Barry hopes the economy will get back on its feet soon and has described the Government's furlough scheme as 'fantastic'. 

Read More
Related Articles
Read More
Related Articles

He said: "We just want to get back to normal at some stage in the future, but we need to get rid of this virus as quickly as possible.  "Some people are being really careless and not thinking of the consequences.

I have seen so many cases of people being foolish. "I always try to take the positives out of any situation. Business will still come back at some stage.

I mean, people will still be building houses. At some stage, we should be busy again."  Out of 30 lorries, 21 are currently on the road, leaving nine not in use. 

The business has also been able to bring back around 16 members of staff.  Extra measures have also been taken to keep workers safe.  Barry added: "We have had plastic screens put around every desk in the office and we have had to write a health and safety policy on which doors to use, which toilets to use and we have put notices up about hand washing. 

"It's about giving people the confidence that they can come to work and feel safe. We have had hand gel from day one. WE have supplied the drivers with plastic gloves.

"It's a safe environment to work in. Our customers have made things safe at their works so we are not handling too much paperwork and they are not coming into contact with anyone even when they deliver to the site or to builder's merchants. "We are still here.

We have just invested around GBP50,000 updating our computer system and our systems in the vehicles. You cannot ever be complacent in business because the opposition will overtake you. You can never stand still and have always got to invest and reinvest in the business. 

"If you want to be successful in business, you must have a passion for the business and that is something I have always had an abundance of. My staff and drivers have got the same passion for the job, which is why they are happy to come back to work.  "We've picked up quite a lot of work this last few weeks, with customers I have not dealt with before.

Hopefully, they will continue when this is over."

You may also like...