Collins Express Seek More Vehicles, While B.R.S. Surrender Six

Collins Express Seek More Vehicles, While B.R.S. Surrender Six

This is the last post (at Least for the time being) as I have run out of free time on Commercial Motor site. I may try At a later date to see if i can get more time! This one is from:-
11th September 1959
Page 65

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Keywords : Liverpool, Studley, Business / Finance
[ON on the application by Collins Express Parcels, Ltd., Walsall od—to increase their A-licensed fleet by 16 vehicles and their receipts estimated £50,000—was reserved by the West Midland Licensing ity, Mr. W. P. James, when the case closed in Birmingham last week.
Much thought and deliberation had gone into the application, which had been part heard during April and May (The Commercial Motor, April 24 and May 29) said Mr. Harold Rogers for Collins. Earnings per vehicle had risen from £2,737, in 1957, to £3,186 in 1958, he added. There had been serious complaints from customers and the company had decided to increase their fleet.
British Railways, British Road Services and Hunts of Studley, Studley, Warwicks, objected to the application. Mr. B. W. Lennard, branch traffic superintendent of B.R.S,, said that 292 vehicles were operated by B.R.S. in the midlands area affected by Collins’ application. There had been a fall in traffic and B.R.S. had surrendered, or were in the process of surrendering, licences for six A vehicles.
Mr, J. S. Owen, a British Railways passenger official, confirmed a fail in traffic, but admitted that there had been a 10 per cent_ rise in rates, in August, 1958.
Hunts traffic manager, Mr. W. Spilsbury, said their business had not been falling off. Their vehicles were fully employed, and they had a number of common customers with Collins, he added.
Mr. R. C. Oswald, for the Railways and B.R.S., said Collins admitted that they were seeking new customers. Between 1954 and 1957 there had been a rapid build up from 58 to 79 vehicles, which they were now proposing to increase further.
For Hunts, Mr. D. E. Skelding said there had been an estimated £27,756 from new customers during 1958—almost doubling the existing figures. Collins were “over vehicle-ized,” he said, and added “it is easy to prove a need for increase when vehicles are only partly employed.”
THERE had been a reduction of 7m. 1 passengers on Liverpool transport department vehicles during the past two years, stated the general manager, Mr. W. M. Hall, in his annual report. He said that this was due to the increase in the number of car owners—which went up by five per cent. each year, This fact also caused the congestion which reduced the average speed of a Liverpool bus, through the city centre during the peak hours, to 6+ m.p.h., he said.




13th December 1968, Page 54
13th December 1968

IN road transport timing is often the crucial factor in success. New types of transport services or new designs of vehicles can be spectacularly successful if introduced at the right time. If the innovation is premature the market does not respond and much money may go down the drain.
A timely approach by Mr. Geoffrey Willis*, the then chairman of Frank Willis and Son (Carriers) Ltd, of Wellingborough, to Mr. Rex Kearsley, managing director of K and 0 Transport Cc. Ltd., of Earls Barton, led to an operating merger and the formation of United Carriers Ltd. in June 1963. UCL now includes nearly 30 road transport concerns, mostly specializing on parcels and smalls. The group operates sortie 550 vehicles and employs about 1,250 people.
It would be surprising if UCL’s rapid development does not continue—any business obviously fitting into the planned group structure would, I suspect, be courted. But Mr. Rex Kearsley, UCL’s chairman, stressed that the holding company’s directors were chiefly preoccupied by the need to consolidate the activities of the group as a whole. All the separate companies are managed by local boards of directors—their collective experience of the highly specialized parcels business is a priceless asset—but the holding company must clearly exercise the co-ordinating and development roles. Major policy matters are referred to the main board.
Northamptonshire has always been notable for enterprising parcels carriers probably because its staple industry of boots and shoes provided a natural need for fast nationwide delivery services to warehouses and retail shops. Firms founded between the wars—PX Transport, T. H. Clark, Valentines, Miles—are still familiar names in local towns though they were absorbed by BRS Parcels Ltd. long ago.
It was logical that post war, as pre-war, the successful newcomers should develop their own specialized routes and traffics. The Frank Willis organization developed services to and from the London area, Bristol and Scotland; K. and 0. operated services to London, Yorkshire and Lancashire.
Most of the companies now controlled by the UCL holding company fit naturally into a non-competitive pattern as regards routes and services so that together they provide virtually a national coverage. (No services operate specifically to Kent, South Lincolnshire or Central and North Wales but there are agency arrangements for traffic to areas beyond the radius covered by the countrywide UCL depots.) The list of acquisitions from the time of the Willis/K and ID merger in June 1963 is proof of the virile expansionist management philosophy. In November the same year, Lance, Midlands and Yorks Carriers Ltd., with depots at Leicester, Bury and Norwich, were acquired. In January 1964, Grants Transport Services Ltd. with depots at Irthlingborough and at Hursley, near Winchester, opened up another valuable territory. Also in 1964 A. C. Pope (Keynsham) Ltd. joined the group and in 1965 R. Knowles and Sons (Helmshore) Ltd., and Harrison and Page Ltd. of Bradford were assimilated. Then 1966 saw the acquisition of H.K.R. (Transport) Ltd., of Little Lever, near Bolton, Willmotts Motors (Howden) Ltd., Howden, near Goole, and the Starmont Warehousing concern, and in 1967 Collins Express Parcels Service Ltd., with three depots in the West Midlands, and East Anglian Carriers Ltd., became part of the family.
Mr. Rex Kearsley told me that most of the firms taken over approached UCL. The reasons varied from concern over death duties if the owners died to the obvious advantages . of amalgamating with a group, thus being able to give greater services. Acquisitions have been made for cash, shares or both.
Several premises in the organization are inadequate for UCL’s requirements. -We sought help a long time ago from numerous estate agents in London where we urgently need larger premises—I’m hopeful that we can finalize the purchase of land shortly”, said Mr. Kearsley.
He explained that new London premises were needed to avoid the need for transhipment at Wellingborough of Northern and some Midland trunk services. “The Willis depot at Plaistow can cope with its own services from Northants but it is too small for all the services we would like to send in direct.”
The main board of UCL meets fortnightly at the Wellingborough offices, which are certainly palatial by road-haulage standards. It would be quite untypical of road transport if all the directors agreed on everything. Mr. Keith Willis, managing director of the Willis Group, said there were many ideas about the economical life of vehicles. Some member firms thought the best policy was to operate light vehicles for three years of 100,000 miles; others felt that five or six years was a reasonable working life with perhaps seven-or eight years for bigger vehicles. “Yet”, said Mr. Willis, “it’s very difficult to get good men tocIrive vehicles more than five years’ old. It’s questionable whether it pays to.keep vehicles a long time.”
The group image may sound an easy thing to promote once a consortium of firms has a common ownership, but there are practical problems not readily solved in the short term. A standard UCL group livery is applied to new vehicles put into service but it will be some years before all the separate company vehicles are in the same livery. Indeed there are strong reasons for maintaining the well established liveries of some constituent companies such as Collins Express Parcels Service or the VVillis Group—both go back several generations. A UCL insignia with the acquired company name may provide a solution to the vexed problem of a standard livery.
Group training needs have been recognized Dy the appointment of a group training officer —formerly the personnel officer of Collins Express Parcels Service. A training prog.amme for drivers, clerical and maintenance ;toffs is being drawn up and this will be mplemented as far as possible at depot level. romising employees of all grades will have Nide promotional opportunities within the 3roup.
Any lafge-scale merger brings with it inherited problems of labour relations, differing wage rates and bonus incentive schemes. The Collins companies productivity schemes with specific rates and job and finish incentives continue. The Willis drivers on the Wellingborough/London services are paid on a trip basis. Other group companies incentive schemes are being studied and ultimately some assimilation may be possible. But circumstances at each depot vary a lot—the motto on this front seems to be “hasten slowly”.
Maintenance facilities are being extended so that there is a well equipped workshop to service local depots in each area. New depots at Durham and Leeds incorporate modern , repair workshops. There is a well equipped repair shop at Wellingborough and an associated bodybuilding department. It is planned to send Northamptonshire-based vehicles for “trial runs” through the new Ministry testing stations at Weedon and Peterborough. The little things will be the problem”, said Stanley Grant, in charge of group maintenance at Wellingborough.
Although parcels organization is heavily dependent on local managerial know-how, efficient operations and economical labour utilization are more readily obtainable from modern premises equipped with mechanical handling aids. The new UCL depot at Leeds, opened in June, utilizes an Acrow drag-link system for the circulation of platform trucks. At Bidfnrd-on-Avon, the Collins Express Parcels depot opened last year uses EMI Robotugs—the first such installation I have seen operating in a parcels depot. A train of trolleys towed by the battery-powered tractor follows a predetermined route round the load ing platform and the adjacent warehouse, stopping at selected points automatically. The guide wire, followed automatically by a steerble sensing fork on the tractor, is buried in the floor surface material, but it is not difficult to plan a new path for the Robotug if necessary.
Any parcels operator brought up in the sack-truck era—still, alas, with us in many depots—could profitably visit the Bidfordon-Avon depot. The system cost some £13,000 to install but, as Mr. S. A. Collins told me, it saves the labour of three porters —say £60 a week—and will pay for itself in three or four years. I have always advocated mechanized parcels sorting and I was delighted to see the Robotug system operating so smoothly. The tractor carries a nylon “antenna” to bring the tug-train to a standstill if a human or solid obstruction is met.) Bidford-on-Avon is a very interesting depot in itself. The Collins organization was fortunate to get planning permission to build there after a manufacturing concern had changed its plans to develop the site, The construction of the depot on the uneven site of an old clay pit involved substantial piling and half the area of the depot and vehicle access road are built on stout concrete piers. This added substantially to the building costs but the depot is well placed to serve the southern part of Birmingham and the Kidderminster carpet trade and it is a real asset to the large village of Bidford-on-Avon. It was pleasant to be directed to Waterloo Road by a housewife who answered my query as to the location with genuine pride. “Yes, I can certainly direct you to Collins Express; my husband works there.”
UCL has no prejudices against using Freightliners and whenever there is a customer advantage in so doing the matter will be pursued. Mr. Kearsley stressed that everything depends upon the timing of the Freightliner trains. “If goods had to be at the new Nottingham terminal by 6 p.m. you’d lose a day. We give next-day delivery from Northants to London and Lancashire services now. When Freightliners will help us give a quicker service anywhere at reasonable cost we’ll look at the possibilities.”
On the advantage to the participating companies Mr. Kearsley was in no doubt that the merger had helped everyone. “By joining an organization able to offer a national collection z nd delivery service the turnover of each company has been increased. As new depots become part of the network inter-depot trunking services will be stepped up with consequent improvement in delivery times. We have not yet fully exploited our growth prospects.”
Mr. P. H. Dodson, the enthusiastic young secretary of UCL, said the company hac 1,000 shareholders. The original issued share capital of £120,000 had now been increasec —Ordinary shares issued totalled £484,322 and Deferred shares £88,888. “Our turnover outside the group, is nearly £3m per annurr —now we have to work towards maximizinc. our profits.”
UCL is not doing so badly in the profit race Profits last year were well up at £304,07 against £266,171 in 1966. This exclude: £60,573 earned by subsidiaries before ac quisition. Treasury permission was secured tc raise UCL’s dividend by 3 per cent to 23 pa cent—approaching the 25 per cent paid ir 1966. There is no doubt that the energetil top management of the group will use thi present phase of consolidation as a platforn for future expansion. Perhaps the success o UCL in a mere five years will inspire simile consortia to be set up in our fragment& industry?
“Mr. Geoffrey Willis retired from the company through ill health in 1968.


New structure for United Carriers

New structure for United Carriers
22nd January 1971, Page 18

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Keywords :
• As from February 1 the subsidiary companies in the United Carriers Group will lose their individual identities and be divisionalized. The first move takes place in the course of the next few days when East Anglian Carriers Ltd, of Silvertown, London, merges with Frank Willis and Sons (Carriers) Ltd, of Barking. The manager of the amalgamated unit is to be Mr J. C. Smith, Willis’s managing director. United Carriers operates 600 vehicles and has a storage and distribution organization.
The wholly-owned subsidiaries include: Willis and Sons (Carriers) Ltd; K and D Transport Co Ltd; Lancs, Midlands, Yorks, Carriers Ltd; Grant’s Transport Services Ltd; R. Knowles and Sons (Helmshore) Ltd; H.K.R. (Transport) Ltd; Willmott’s Motors (Howden) Ltd; Collins Express Parcel Service Ltd; East Anglian Carriers Ltd; United Carriers, Yorkshire Ltd; Southwestern Ltd; Scotland Ltd.
There will be 20 divisions in the new structure and no further mergers are anticipated.


Threat to Haulier’s Fuel supplies

Threat to Haulier’s Fuel supplies


19th November 1965, Page 18

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Keywords : Walsall
From a Special Correspondent SHORTLY before an official strike at the Walsall Wood depot of Collins Express Parcel Service Ltd. ended last week-end, Regent Oil Co. Ltd. warned a Birmingham garage firm that it would deliver no further fuel supplies unless the firm gave an undertaking not to supply Collins. This resulted from a TGWU decision to warn its tanker driver members not to deliver fuel to any garage known to be supplying Collins.
Mr. Lionel Mayman, managing director of the firm—Hunts (Birmingham) Ltd.— said that Regent had told him that regretfully no supplies would arrive until he had given the undertaking asked for. “I sought the advice of the Ministry of Labour on this matter “, he said: ‘1t is extraordinary that retailers such as ourselves, whose job is providing a service for the public, should be hit in this manner by a dispute in which we have no part.” There seems no doubt that if the strike had continued Hunts would have had to stop supplying Collins.
Mr. Alan Law, regional commercial trade group secretary of the TGWU, said that his members at the Regent company’s Stourport depot, who were contributing to the strike fund, had complained that Collins’ drivers were filling up their vehicles at Hunts.
The dispute at Collins began on September 30 after the dismissal of a shop steward for disciplinary reasons. Now the company has agreed to take the dispute to arbitration. However, on the day before the strike ended the management claimed that all but 21 of the men had returned to work. Collins have more than 200 drivers and depot staff at Walsall Wood.


COLLINS-Link Withdrawal Causes Confusion in Parcels Service

Link Withdrawal Causes Confusion in Parcels Service
15th March 1957, Page 40

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Keywords : Crewe, Cheshire, Lathom, Lancashire, Birmingham
T”parcels service operated by J. Lathom and Sons (Carriers), Ltd., Crewe, between Manchester, Cheshire and the Midlands, was thrown into confusion and now run under difficulty because of the withdrawal of a linking facility from Walsall Wood provided by Collins Express Services, Ltd., Birmingham.
Mr. C. R. Hodgson, South Wales Licensing Authority, deputizing for the North Western Licensing Authority, was told this at Manchester last week when Lathom and Sons sought to add three vehicles, each of 3 tons unladen, to their A licence. There was an objection from the British Transport Comm issio n. and the case was adjourned until April 10, when the Commission will call evidence.
Thirty Years’ Service Mr. J. A. Dunkerley, for the applicants, said that they had 14 vehicles on an A licence, and two special A-licence vehicles specially adapted for parcels carrying. Lathom had distributed for 30 years with their own vehicles between Manchester, Cheshire. the Potteries and North Wales.
For the past seven years, parcels for the Midlands had been collected in Manchester and delivered to Walsall Wood, where they were transferred to Collins. On November 1 last, Lathom received notification from Collins that the sub-contracted traffic was causing embarrassment and would be discoritinued from January 1. Lathom were placed in difficulty and now had to do the Midlands distribution themselves, said Mr. Dunkerley.
Mr. H, 1. Turner, manager of the applicants, said that their traffic to the Midlands for the year ended October, 1956, totalled £15,000, of which £5.500 was paid to Collins. Goods carried for Atlas Express Co., Ltd., now had to be taken to Birmingham. Traffic for J. and N. Phillips and Co.. Ltd., textile wholesalers, Manchester, was still accepted by Collins.
Common Customers Questioned by Mr. A. W. Balne, for the objectors, Mr. Turner agreed that, apart from the trunk services, all parcels were sorted at Crewe, and a service similar to that of British Road Services, who had common customers, was given. Lathom had linked with Collins originally, added Mr. Turner, because the 25-mile limit during nationalization would otherwise have put them out of business.
Mr. Balne pointed out that Lathom’s normal user was “mainly Lancashire, Cheshire. Staffordshire, Shropshire and North Wales.” and suggested that in 1950 the company decided to accept new traffic for the Midlands when there was an apportunity to do so by using another carrier.
n6 Collins had 70-80 vehicles in the Midlands and were giving up all work outside the area, yet the applicants wanted three vehicles to serve the whole of it from Crewe, “a manifestly uneconomic proposition and quite impracticable.” Many places on Collins’ list were not going to be served, including Derby, Leicester, Nottingham, Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton. No practical plan had been submitted to the Authority.
Lathom’s traffic in their own area had declined’ in 1956. The only increase was in the Midlands, where they had “built up a reputation on the back or Collins” and were never carriers in their own right. This could be the beginning of an attempt to build up a national parcels service at the expense of other operators.
Mr. Dunkerley submitted that all that Lathom were asking to do was to continue the work previously done by Collins’ vehicles. On figures alone a
grant ‘Was justified. When Lathom’s last applied in 1954, and the vehicles were increased from 13 to 14, annual turnover was £27,000. It had now risen to £33,500.
A witness on behalf of Phillips said that since January, Lathom were more than a day behind with their collections. If the position did not improve Phillips would have to get someone else or use their own vehicles. Although British Railways and B.R.S. carried traffic up to 13,000 a month for them, none went to the Midlands.
A represen/ative of Parry, Sons and Hanson, Ltd., wholesale men’s outfitters, said they sent parcels all over the country, Cheshire and the Midlands being served by Lathom. Since January there were many complaints of late delivery in Birmingham. The company’s work was divided between the railways and 14 individual carriers. Annual claims averaged 57 to the B.T.C. and six to private hauliers.


16 Extra Parcels Vans Sought :By Collins

16 Extra Parcels Vans Sought : Big Increase in Complaints
Page 39, 29th May 1959
Page 39

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ATRAFFIC clerk employed by a Midlands parcels carrier told the West Midland Licensing Authority, Mr. W. P. James, at Birmingham last Friday, that his health was suffering as a result of complaints from customers about late collections.
Mr. Joseph Scragg, traffic clerk in the Birmingham office of Collins Express Parcels Service, Ltd., Walsall Wood, Staffs, said: “I felt so strongly about these complaints being made and my having to give reasons to the various customers that I’m afraid I stepped outside my province and became a nuisance to my boss.”
The company were applying for an addition of 16 vehicles on an A licence to their present fleet of 79 vehicles. The application was opposed by British Railways, British Road Services and Hunt’s. of Studley.
This was the second day of the hearing. The case for the applicants having been closed, it was stated that there were five witnesses to be called for the objectors and the application was adjourned.
Tremendous Increase In his evidence, Mr. Scragg agreed that, with this class of traffic, operators expected complaints from time to time, but there had been a tremendous increase in the number during the past two years. He had kept a record between last December and February. Customers were complaining that because Collins were late in collecting, they had to keep loading staffs on after 5.30 p.m. and pay them overtime.
Cross-examined by Mr. T. C. Oswald, for British Railways and B.R.S., Mr. Scragg said they were receiving 15 to 20 complaints a day, but not all of them were recorded. He agreed that the entries shown in the record varied between five and one on individual days.
Mr. Ivor Gardavel, traffic manager for the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Co., Birmingham, and Mr. R. B. Wilson, traffic manager for Typhoo Teas, both gave evidence that they had to keep loading staffs late while waiting for Collins’ vans to collect.
Small, Frequent Orders
Mr. J. R. Packer, in charge of transport for Wilkinson and Ridell, wholesale drapers, said that because so many people were buying on credit, customers, instead of building up large stocks, were ordering one article—a pair of trousers—or a coat –at a time—for delivery next day. Collins’ vans frequently called too early for all these orders to be made up, he said, and consequently next-day delivery
was impossible.
When Mr. Oswald suggested that on the applicants’ figures of increased business, it was evident that these could be met with, say, half the number of extra vehicles applied for, Mr. Carl Collins said that the physical running of a parcels service could not be related to statistics. So much depended on the points to which the vehicles were required to go to pick up and deliver consignments.