European hauliers driving ahead with expansion

More than a third of European road transport businesses are thinking about expanding their operations into other countries, with the UK leading the list, according to a survey from DWF, provider of integrated legal and business services. It found that despite the mix of new regulations, the impact of Brexit and business disruption caused by Covid – transport companies polled in Ireland, Spain, Italy, Germany and Poland are positively looking ahead to expansion. Over a third (38%) of haulage decision-makers who transport goods to the UK said their company is currently considering relocating or establishing new bases in the UK.

The UK was closely followed by Italy (31 %), Germany (30 %), Poland (30 %) and Spain (26 %) as other destinations where haulage companies were considering launching or expanding operations. However, DWF said some of the expansion may be a result to changes to EU Drivers’ Hours’ regulations which means that operators will have to organise the workloads of international drivers to ensure they return home more regularly. 63% said they will arrange transport home to base for international drivers, while 36% said they will look to establish one or more additional bases with a view to drivers completing shorter legs of international journeys as a result. Vikki Woodfine, partner and head of road transport and logistics at DWF, said: “Our survey clearly shows that European road transport decision-makers are gearing up for expansion and change.

There has been a period of consolidation and change in the market in this turbulent year, and as things settle down, opportunities from the reshuffle of the market emerge. “It is positive to see a strong appetite to expand into the UK logistics market, despite Brexit and border concerns this year. Some of this will be driven by the opportunities arising from a post Covid/post Brexit market, others are driven by the need to react to EU Regulation changes requiring drivers to return home more regularly.”

Despite the optimism of some companies, some perceived barriers to the market remain. The survey found that Brexit and lack of free movement within the EU was a concern for 39%, while 42% of haulage companies consider the complexity of regulation involved in setting up operations in the UK to be a barrier to establishing a base here.

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