Stobart deal saves 1,300 jobs at Innovate Logistics

ABOUT 1,300 jobs have been safeguarded at a chilled goods distributor after the firm was bought out of administration by haulage giant Stobart Group, it was announced today.

Stobart - the Cumbrian owner of the famous haulier Eddie Stobart - has taken on Innovate Logistics' chilled operation from BDO Stoy Hayward.

The deal - for an undisclosed sum - is set to boost Stobart's workforce to more than 5,300 people, giving it an enlarged fleet of more than 1,800 trucks and 3,200 trailers.

Andrew Tinkler, chief executive of Stobart, said: "We are committed to safeguarding the jobs of 1,300 people who may otherwise have been unemployed and we look forward to welcoming them to the group."

He added the move was a "low risk" way of expanding Stobart's presence in the chilled market.

The bulk of the jobs expected to be saved under the deal are based in Innovate's Nottingham headquarters.

Innovate, which was owned by Icelandic shipping company Eimskip, went into administration yesterday afternoon.

Its former parent group put Innovate's assets up for sale in mid-June, after writing off 74.1m Euros (58.4m) due to losses at the group.

Stobart said that the operation taken over had "minimal" accounting book value, but is expected to generate around 100m a year in turnover and boost group earnings within the first full year.

Stobart will take on 280 tractor units, 350 trailers and associated warehousing from the Innovate business under an initial six-month contract with BDO.

The Innovate deal forms part of Stobart's growth strategy to become "the UK's leading multimodal transport and logistics provider", according to the group.

Stobart was formed by a merger between ports group Westbury and Eddie Stobart last year, when it also listed on the stock market.

The flotation saw a stock market debut for Eddie Stobart, which was founded in the 1950s and has become famous for its 900-strong fleet of green and red trucks.