McColl’s Trans­port is un­der new man­age­ment with a fa­mil­iar face at the helm, with plans to ex­pand the com­pany’s fleet and as­sets for a long-term fu­ture

Australian Transport News - - Contents -

MCCOLL’S TRANS­PORT is un­der new man­age­ment with a fa­mil­iar face at the helm, with plans to ex­pand the com­pany’s fleet and as­sets for a long-term fu­ture.

For­mer McColl’s CEO Si­mon Thorn­ton has re­turned to head up the com­pany af­ter lead­ing an in­vest­ment group to ac­quire the com­pany for $52.5 mil­lion in May from pri­vate eq­uity firm KKR and fund man­ager Al­le­gro. The in­vest­ment group, which in­volves some 25 dif­fer­ent in­di­vid­ual share­hold­ers, was dubbed “Friesian” af­ter the black and white dairy cow – an anal­ogy Thorn­ton told ATN was no ac­ci­dent.

“A Here­ford is a beef calf – you only have it so you can send it to mar­ket. But the own­er­ship club is called Friesian, it is a dairy cow, it is here for a long time – and that is the way we are think­ing about it,” he says. “McColl’s has been a good com­pany all the way through, it just needs peo­ple to start car­ing for it for the long term… this is the kind of com­pany that needs to be owned by dairy farm­ers rather than beef farm­ers.”

Founded in Gee­long in 1952 as a milk truck­ing com­pany, McColl’s is Aus­tralia’s largest in­de­pen­dent car­rier of dairy, food and con­sumer and in­dus­trial chem­i­cals, with a fleet of more than 195 prime movers and 544 tankers.

Af­ter the McColl fam­ily sold out of the busi­ness in 2005, the com­pany was first passed to ABN AMRO Cap­i­tal, be­fore be­ing bought by pri­vate eq­uity firm KKR in 2012 af­ter a joint pri­vate eq­uity ven­ture with Scott’s Re­frig­er­ated fell apart, and Scott’s was bought back from ad­min­is­tra­tors.

The new board will in­clude Thorn­ton, cor­po­rate lawyer James Mac­Don­ald and cor­po­rate ad­vi­sor Mark Men­tha, of Kor­daMen­tha fame.

Thorn­ton tells ATN he was em­brac­ing the op­por­tu­nity to con­sider the com­pany’s fu­ture with a longer time­frame in mind, po­ten­tially 20 years and over.

“Be­cause of short-term own­er­ship, both in this com­pany and oth­ers in our var­i­ous com­pet­ing in­dus­tries, peo­ple have avoided in­vest­ing in spe­cialised equip­ment and spe­cialised in­fra­struc­ture,” he says.

“If we just go and do that we think we can get our­selves the in­side run­ning on a whole lot of work.”

In the past six months, the com­pany has pur­chased 49 new prime movers, 10 road trains and 13 tankers with plans for a step-up in fleet and in­fra­struc­ture in­vest­ment over the next three years to meet cus­tomer de­mand – with po­ten­tially more to come. That said, Thorn­ton says the com­pany still sees it­self as more of a tanker com­pany than a gen­eral trans­port firm.

“We see our­selves as be­ing in a po­si­tion to make some in­vest­ments in in­fra­struc­ture as well as spe­cialised fleet to give us a long term com­pet­i­tive space in the mar­ket,” he says. “It is an ex­cit­ing time and I am very happy to be back. McColl’s is a great com­pany and it has got great cus­tomers.”

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