Watson Burton puts the pedal to the metal

Law firm Watson Burton recently completed a major deal in a demanding four-week timescale for Blyth-based haulage company Fergusons Group.

Law firm Watson Burton recently completed a major deal in a demanding four-week timescale for Blyth-based haulage company Fergusons Group.

The Newcastle firm saw through the purchase by the North-East's largest privately owned haulier of Newcastle rival Waugh Road Services Ltd for an undisclosed sum.

David Wilson, of Watson Burton's corporate department, led the legal team, which had to complete by April 30 after heads of agreement were finalised at the end of March.

Corporate, employment, pensions and property expertise was provided by David Wilson working with Tonia Simpson, David Jenkins, Rob Butler and Patrick Quigley respectively.

One aspect that had to be dealt with was a former final salary pension scheme. There were also environmental issues that were successfully tackled.

Because the former managing director of Waugh Road Services, John Arkle, is now working with Fergusons Group, his continuing role within the enlarged group had to be negotiated and agreed. All existing Waugh employees continue to be employed by Fergusons Group, which aims to continue to expand as a result of the purchase.

Fergusons' first acquisition for five years is expected to increase its annual turnover from £20m to £25m and means its enlarged fleet will now cover 12 million miles a year.

Blackett Hart and Pratt acted on behalf of Waugh Road Services.

David Wilson said: "We completed the acquisition of Waugh Road Services on time for our client, Fergusons Group, which ensured a smooth transition.

"Waugh Road Services is a well-known name in the haulage business and we are delighted with the successful completion, which should benefit our client and all employees of Waughs Road Services."

Alan Ferguson, chief executive of Fergusons Group, said: "The acquisition of Waugh Road Services is a key strategic move for our company. It gives us a well-managed, centrally-located depot that significantly strengthens our capabilities and helps us better serve our North-East customer base.

"With the combined group's 300-plus employees, we now aim to move forward strongly, using the increased resources and experience that the acquisition has brought."

Blyth-based Fergusons says the deal to buy Newcastle's Waugh Road Services increases its opportunities.

Fergusons - which is run by Alan Ferguson - grandson of the company's founder and former president of the North-East Chamber of Commerce - says the new company sees a strong future in moving goods by road, despite soaring fuel costs putting a strain on the industry.

Fergusons, which was founded 80 years ago, has kept on all 65 Waugh staff and says the business will continue to trade under the Waugh name in the short-to-medium term. It will have a combined workforce of 450.

The deal swells Fergusons' fleet of articulated vehicles from 150 to 210, its trailers from 300 to 420 and its property portfolio from 300,000 sq ft to 600,000 sq ft.

Waugh Road Services has been trading for almost 50 years and John Arkle has managed it for the past 20 years.

He and his two sons, Stuart and Michael, will continue to work with Fergusons Group.

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