Fletchers Freighters goes into administration

SA-based Fletchers Freighters calls in administrators to look at restructuring the business or sell it

Fletchers Freighters goes into administration
Fletchers Freighters goes into administration
By Brad Gardner | March 29, 2010

Fletchers Freighters has called in administrators, signifying another of the trucking industry’s big-name carriers is struggling to survive.

The South Australian operator appointed advisory firm McGrathNicol late yesterday to take control of the business, which has an annual turnover of $40 million.

Details are sketchy at the moment, but administrators say Fletchers operations will be urgently assessed to look at possible restructuring and sale opportunities.

"We are working with Fletchers Freighters’ management and will keep all stakeholders fully updated throughout this process," Sam Davies of McGrathNicol says.

Fletchers has depots in Adelaide, Berrie, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane and operates a fleet of 80 trucks and 135 trailers.

The company was founded by Syd and Yvonne Fletcher in 1948 and started carrying fresh produce to Melbourne.

Current Managing Director Barry Fletcher took over the company in 1991, and Fletchers now carries fresh produce, wine, juice, refrigerated goods and general freight.

Fletchers is heavily reliant on food manufacturer Berri, signing on as its national transport provider.

ATN has contacted Fletchers and McGrathNicol for comment.

It’s been a tough time recently for trucking, with Mannway sinking into oblivion after administrators failed to find a buyer.

As well as a huge debt burden, the company also lost significant contracts with customers.

Earlier this month one of Queensland’s largest trucking companies, Latter’s Transport, went into liquidation over an unpaid debt to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

It marked an end for the 40-year-old company, which boasted a fleet of 80 prime movers and more than 140 trailers.

Another big-name Queensland operator, Hawkins Road Transport, turned its back on general freight because it was not sustainable.

Hawkins CEO Rosalind Shaw says general freight volumes have fallen in the last year, and the decision of one of the company’s biggest customers to turn to rail about six months ago also influenced the operator’s decision.

"The competitive nature of the [general freight] business has squeezed margins," Shaw says.

"We decided to remove ourselves before we became a statistic."

The Director of Ross Transport, Alan Ross, says more trucking companies will go broke unless governments stop slugging them with higher charges.

His comment came before last week’s announcement by the National Transport Commission (NTC) that governments should increase scheduled registration increases by 4.2 percent and raise the diesel excise to 22.6 cents a litre from July 1.

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