A North East transport firm could be set for expansion after being acquired in a multimillion-pound deal by an entrepreneur who has plans to bolster the company’s UK coverage.
Andrew Baxter, of Nottingham, has paid an undisclosed, but significant, sum to take a 90% stake in the Europa Worldwide Group, one of the UK’s largest privately-owned transport companies.
The group has been carrying out logistics, air and sea freight services since 1966 and has grown to have nine UK and Ireland operations, including the Europa Newcastle branch, based at Bentall Business Park, Washington, as well as an office in Hong Kong.
In 2012, it had a turnover of £73m, carrying some 500,000 consignments, and the company employs more than 500 staff, but Baxter intends to grow both turnover and headcount.
Baxter has 18 years’ experience in the industry and was previously joint owner at family-owned RH Freight, a Nottingham independent operator which was sold in 2011 to Swiss firm Kuehne + Nagel, who paid £66.9m cash according to the company’s financial statements.
He takes over from owners Russell Keep, Andrew Kennedy and Grenville Turner, all long-standing employees of Europa who bought the business in a management buyout in 2007.
Baxter is purchasing a 90% stake and becomes managing director; Russell Keep is purchasing a 10% interest and becomes group finance director.
The acquisition will enable the firm to maintain its independence and there are no plans to change the name, plus staff numbers are planned to rise in the near future following further investments.
Baxter said: “I have spent some time looking for the right opportunity and am very excited about the potential here at Europa. The company has an excellent reputation and a good track record and I want to build the business to become the clearly-recognised, number one groupage operator in the UK.
“I also believe the company has great potential outside of its European operations, in air, ocean and logistics, and we will be looking at what we can do to further develop these businesses.
“It will be business as usual for the next few months while we take time to evaluate the current set-up. We already have plans to invest ï¿½1.5m in IT infrastructure to help improve efficiencies and communication. There is a strong branch network which could be boosted further with other new sites to give a denser coverage of the UK.”