The changing face of the UK logistics sector

Following a spate of acquisition activity over the last five years, the majority of the largest UK logistics companies are now foreign owned.

As part of its focus on the logistics sector, Moore Stephens has undertaken research into how the ownership structure of the UK logistics sector has changed. In particular how much of the UK sector remains under domestic control and how much under foreign control. Our results indicate some very interesting conclusions.

The changing ownership structure
There has been a substantial increase in foreign (non-UK) ownership of UK logistics businesses during the five years from 2009 to 2013 (see footnote 1). At the start of the period, 21 of the largest 50 companies were foreign owned – but by 2013, this figure had risen to 31. In other words, the majority (62%) of the 50 largest logistics companies in the UK are now in foreign hands.

UK ownership of largest 50 logistics companies
Source: Moore Stephens research

Key takeover deals in the UK 2009-2013DPS29687-takover-deasl.jpg
1. Latest publicly available information
2. Norbert Dentressangle has subsequently itself been acquired by XPO Logistics of the USA

Why have we seen this influx of foreign investment? According to Philip Bird, Director at Moore Stephens who specialises in the logistics sector.

"The UK and the UK logistics sector continue to be attractive for overseas investment. Not being a member country of the Eurozone has meant that the UK has not experienced the same level of economic difficulties as other European countries. In addition, the logistics sector is seen as a good place to acquire established, sophisticated supply chain practices and expertise."

The UK sector has proved to be extremely resilient over the last five years through a very difficult economic environment.

"The sector has shown itself to be innovative and adaptable and there is no doubt that this has attracted foreign interest and investment," Philip Bird says. "This innovation and adaptability has been reflected in the findings of our biannual Logistics Sector Confidence index over the recent years with increased collaboration between customer and logistics provider, cost cutting and the increased use of IT to drive efficiencies consistently rating as key areas of focus for index respondents."

Who's in and who's out?


UK Logistics Confidence Index

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