First Fleet's gone, but 1st Fleet's still kicking

Name likeness to failed company causes rumours to circulate about the demise of one of the nation's largest trucking operators

First Fleet's gone, but 1st Fleet's still kicking
First Fleet's gone, but 1st Fleet's still kicking
By Brad Gardner | March 10, 2010

Those tied up with 1st Fleet can relax. The carrier is not going into administration or liquidation.

A name likeness to First Fleet, which appointed administrators Lawler Partners last month, has sparked rumours of the demise of one of the nation’s largest transport and logistics operators.

So much so that 1st Fleet Managing Director Stephen Brown had also heard the news.

"It’s nothing to do with us…it’s a little bloke," he says of First Fleet.

First Fleet administrator Bradley Tonks from Lawler Partners also rejected any link between the two companies.

"This has no relation to 1st Fleet. Our appointment has no relation to that company," he says.

Tonks says First Fleet is not even a trucking company.

Documents from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission list Mohamed Salim Hamze as the director of the failed company, which is based in NSW.

Brown says "I think I would know" if his company was in liquidation or administrators had been appointed.

1st Fleet boasts almost 1000 vehicles and an annual turnover of more than $250 million, according to last year’s ATN business survey.

Along with a workforce of 1,755 people, 1st Fleet has contracts with Nestle, Fonterra, Woolworths, Coles and Metcash.

Following the collapse of Mannway in 2009, Brown claimed many in the industry were struggling due to financiers screwing operators over.

"There is risk you can’t get finance off banks; all the big boys of trucking finance have disappeared," Brown told ATN in October last year.

"Most private companies don’t have overdrafts with the banks anymore, including us."

The situation led Brown to predict more companies would fail.

"I just hope we aren’t one of them," he said at the time.

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