Bedfords makes aquisition in bid to become national name

Steff Pfadenhauer, Managing Director of Bedfords Group, Leeds, with driver Brian Morelli
Steff Pfadenhauer, Managing Director of Bedfords Group, Leeds, with driver Brian Morelli
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LOGISTICS firm Bedfords Group has acquired a haulage business in the South East as it embarks on an ambitious acquisition trail to make a national name for itself.

The Birstall-based company, which has a £26m turnover, has bought RPL logistics in Milton Keynes.

The company, which has about 45 staff and a turnover of about £4.5m, operates more than 30 vehicles from its depot.

Managing director Steff Pfadenhauer said: “As a Yorkshire haulier we need to be seen to be a national player. We are, but we aren’t recognised as one so we’ve had to move further south.”

He added: “We first approached RPL about two years ago. It wasn’t right then. The proprietor wanted too much for his business, so we waited and watched as we did with other companies.

“It’s a good acquisition for us. It immediately gives us a presence down south, which is the key.

“It gives us a staging post so some of the southern work will be done from down there rather than sending empty vehicles back to Yorkshire.

“We intend to grow its turnover to £10m in three-to-five years.”

RPL, has 30-to-40 small clients and also works for other general haulage companies.

“They’ve got more diversification than we have,” said Mr Pfadenhauer.

Bedfords currently has over 160 employees and a fleet of more than 70 vehicles from 7.5 tonne rigids to 44 tonne articulated vehicles.

Over the years it has made a name for itself as a print haulier. Its biggest client is Associated Newspapers for whom it distributes The Daily Mail and The Mail On Sunday throughout Britain. It also delivers for printing firm Polestar Group.

“When took over as MD a few years ago, the Mail was 80 per cent of what we did,” said Mr Pfadenhauer. “You can’t operate a business like that so diversification was the key as well as expansion, getting to be known as something other than a print haulier.”

Bedfords has since moved into other areas and works for Gower Furniture as well as a number of other companies in different sectors.

Managing costs has been one of the main challenges in recent years.

“Our costs are going up but our revenues aren’t. We are doing a lot more work for less money,” he said.

Mr Pfadenhauer’s ambition is to grow the business to £100m turnover. “How long that will take, I don’t know but that’s the plan,” he said. “Most of that is going to have to come from acquisitions but also winning new contracts.”

RPL is the group’s second acquisition following the purchase of Linq Alliance in 2011, a deal which gave it links with other hauliers across Europe.

The next acquisition he hopes to make is a driver agency. “It would give us additional drivers without having to employ them directly,” he said.