If any company provides an early- warning system for Britain's economy, it is Stobart Group. Its iconic Eddie Stobart lorries deliver more goods than any other haulier – assuming, that is, there are goods being bought and sold in the nation's shops.
Good news, then. Stobart is bracing itself for a busy second half of the year after its performance improved in the first six months. The Carlisle-based company said its interim pre-tax profits were up 12.7 per cent, or £1.4m, to £12.4m, when restructuring costs were taken out, helped by new contracts with the likes of Tesco and Nestle. Stobart says it has been able to avoid the worst of the recession because of two-thirds of its business involves the transportation of food and drink.
As well as operting its so-called "Steady Eddie'" lorries, its owns rail, port and aviation companies, and it recently launched a rail service for fresh produce from Valencia in Spain.