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Logistics firm targets acquisitions as it frees up more cash

A DISTRIBUTION, freight and storage company is eyeing acquisitions after moving banks and sealing a new financing deal.

DEAL: Karen Perriman, of Clydesdale Bank, with Craig Leslie, managing director of Gordon Leslie Group.
DEAL: Karen Perriman, of Clydesdale Bank, with Craig Leslie, managing director of Gordon Leslie Group.

Gordon Leslie Group, which is based at Hillington Park in Glasgow, has consolidated a number of long-term loans it held into a new £4.4 million agreement with Clydesdale Bank.

Managing director Craig Leslie confirmed the business had more working capital to work with and had also managed to reduce its annual financing payments.

It had previously banked with Royal Bank of Scotland.

Mr Leslie said: "We had three different term loans running with different rates and term. It occurred to me that with the company quite settled there was an opportunity to do some consolidating.

"By pulling off the loans and restructuring them it did free quite a bit of cash which allowed us to reduce our day-to-day borrowing.

"We were able to take the new loan over a longer period which gives us a bit more breathing space. That in itself will generate a bit more working capital as we are paying less annually."

The company was founded more than 40 years ago and initially was a haulier with a large client base in the wines and spirits sector.

When founder Gordon Leslie retired in 1996 the business was taken over by French company Geodis.

Craig Leslie, the founder's son, took over as managing director before leaving in 2004.

He subsequently re-acquired the company name and started it again from scratch, with a fleet of just four vehicles.

A decade later it now operates 25 trucks. Mr Leslie said turnover in the year to the end of September 2013 came in at around £6m and he is expecting a figure of up to £6.5m in the current trading year.

Part of that growth may involve taking over another business which could be easily bolted on to existing operations.

He said: "We have a fairly open mind on [buying] other companies in the warehousing or logistics sector.

"It would be local. So [it would be] something in central Scotland rather than abroad or in England and similar types of business in the same area [that we operate in]."

George Leslie Group is also investing in the IT systems in its warehouses as well as making improvements to the properties it owns.

Mr Leslie said he is hopeful of adding to the 50 people the business employs, with any increase in staff numbers likely to be in the warehousing operation.

At its warehouses the business stores a range of wines and spirits, including whisky, as well as other commodities, engineering equipment, confectionery and food.

One of its major customers is the drinks industry wholesaler London City Bond, which rents part of one of the George Leslie Group's warehouses.

The lease there was recently extended from three to 13 years.

London City Bond's clients include Fortnum and Mason and The Whisky Exchange.

Robert Gibson, head of the Clydesdale's centre for regional business and private banking in the west of Scotland, said: "Gordon Leslie Group has established an excellent reputation across the logistics sector.

"Its continued success is testament to the experience and expertise of Craig and his management team."

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