Thursday, February 16, 2012

Road Haulage and Logistics Giant Has Mixed Fortunes

Potential Strike Just as Stobart Takes on Another Major Site
Shipping News Feature

UK – IRELAND – There’s Good News and Bad News seems to be the story for the Stobart organisation this week with the road and rail haulage and logistics group making headlines for both right and wrong reasons. A statement from the Irish based Services Industrial Professional and Technical Union (SIPTU) yesterday warned that members had voted for strike action to highlight a number of grievances over their working conditions. The union says the strike by truck drivers is likely to cause disruption particularly to the Tesco retail chain. SIPTU Sector Organiser, Karan O’Loughlin said:

“These heavy goods vehicle drivers have been trying to resolve a number of grievances around rest time, rosters and general working conditions for some time now but Eddie Stobart has consistently refused to deal with any of these issues. Issues such as fatigue for drivers are complicating the situation to the extent that the drivers are at the end of their tether and feel that they have no alternative but to withdraw their labour to draw attention to their plight.

“As Tesco is the main customer involved there is a danger that an interruption to supply will have a direct impact on the deliveries to its stores. It is not our intention to draw Tesco into this row but ultimately it has engaged Eddie Stobart to drive and deliver products to all its stores nationwide. The Tesco perspective on this dispute would be useful but so far the retail company has remained silent on the matter.”

Local reports say that Stobart Ireland claim that independent auditors have confirmed that drivers are treated in accordance with employment law and that a strike might threaten future investment by the group in the country but no company statement has been issued at the time of writing.

The good news is that the Stobart group has agreed terms to occupy the Pinnacle building located at Eurocentral development, a near 70,000 square foot site adjacent to the A8 which links Edinburgh and Glasgow. Stobart shareholders recently gave the nod to the acquisition of the ‘Moneypenny’ portfolio, another story when good and bad news for the group emerged simultaneously. WADI Properties, controlled by Stobart MD Andrew Tinkler, holders of the property portfolio, also passed over £88 million in debt to Stobart along with the property file a move described as ‘an attractive fixed rate debt package’ at the time.

The new building on the 17 acre £21 million Eurocentral development is a boost for Scottish property interests and means Stobart as a group now functions from over forty sites with a cumulative area of over six million square feet across Europe.

Photo: ‘The Big Heids’ located outside the Eurocentral development is a tribute to North Lanarkshire miners by artist David Mach. Photo courtesy of Mike Pennington.