Stobart is slowed by a tough summer

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The Independent Online

A surge in supermarket promotions knocked Stobart Group off course in early summer as the transport and logistics company struggled to meet retailers' demands at short notice.

Stobart, famed for its Eddie Stobart lorries, was taken by surprise as big retailers launched a deluge of customer offers to get cash-strapped consumers into stores. The result was big spikes in demand between May and July that gave Stobart little time to organise its fleet and left lorries unfilled. The firm, which has operational head offices in Carlisle and Widnes, said it had improved analysis of haulage customers' behaviour to get on top of the problem. "August trading has improved materially and we expect a stronger second half to the financial year," Stobart said.

The FTSE-250 company, which owns 2,250 vehicles and more than6 million square feet of warehouse space, has expanded beyond its road haulage roots into businesses such as civil engineering, airports and commercial and industrial property.

Stobart said other airlines were interested in flying from its Southend Airport after easyJet signed a 10-year deal in June.

Despite the difficult trading environment, the group said it had made good progress in the first half of the year and expected to unveil profit ahead of a year earlier at its interim results on 26 October.