Jobs saved at haulage firm

NEARLY 70 jobs have been saved at a struggling Suffolk haulier business after a buyer was found.Staff at family-run Leggetts Transport, based at Woolpit, near Bury St Edmunds, were shocked last month after the company went into administration, less than two months after they agreed to take a 10% pay cut aimed at staving off redundancy.

NEARLY 70 jobs have been saved at a struggling Suffolk haulier business after a buyer was found.

Staff at family-run Leggett's Transport, based at Woolpit, near Bury St Edmunds, were shocked last month after the company went into administration, less than two months after they agreed to take a 10% pay cut aimed at staving off redundancy.

Administrators Smith & Williamson announced yesterday that the business had been sold. It said the potential buyer had loaned administrators over �500,000 to allow trading to continue while a sale was negotiated.

The 91-year-old haulier company was hit hard by the recession having already reported pre-tax losses over four financial years. Most of the company's assets were sold before the administrators were brought in, including the property, in a bid to keep it going.

The few owned assets and right to use the Leggetts name have now been sold to Marmex Ltd, trading as Leggetts Transport.

A spokesman for the new owners said its strategy for the business, which was still being finalised, included “significant” short, medium and long term aims for the site.

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“We have worked in close co-operation with the administrators, to whom thanks are due,” he said.

“There is no doubt that saving so many jobs is quite an achievement, especially in the current economic climate, where we are all suffering, but it is also particularly good news for the local demographics and economy.

“”This task has been facilitated by all the current employees of the former company, who have adopted such a flexible and co-operative approach to their work, during a time which must have been extremely traumatic for many, if not all, of them and their families.”

He thanked existing customers for keeping faith in the staff and the business's ability to deliver on its contracts.

“We are extremely grateful for their continued support, without which it would have been impossible to have continued to trade the company for the past few weeks, and maintain the service to which they, and all our business partners, are entitled.”

Administrator Greg Palfrey of Smith & Williamson said it was “very unusual” in a company of this size for someone to be prepared to risk so much to save a business.

“Saving almost 70 jobs is good news given the severe difficulties the haulage industry is facing in the recession,” he said.

“Throughout the process of administration, our focus has been on finding a new owner who could take over and safeguard Leggetts Transport whilst maximising the return for creditors.

“Working with the purchaser we have been able to achieve this and greatly enhance recoveries from existing contracts. We are pleased with the outcome.”

Leggetts provides a range of logistics services including general and container haulage, container storage and distribution and total fleet management.

Before administration, the company had taken a series of steps to reduce costs including voluntary redundancies, pay cuts and the conversion of part of its Bury St Edmunds depot into a truck park.

Leggetts was able to continue trading while Mr Palfrey negotiated the sale following his appointment on July 3.