Freight News, Road

European road market – calm before the storm

[ October 30, 2014   //   ]

The European road freight sector endured another year of weak growth and anaemic profits, according to the latest market report from Transport Intelligence, European Road Freight Transport 2014.

Overall growth was just 1.0% in 2013, weighed down by stagnation in the Eurozone. Only markets in Central and Eastern Europe prospered, with Poland, the largest market in the region growing by 5.8%. The UK was the best performing of the larger markets in Western Europe, with growth of 2.0% mostly ddue to its economic recovery.

Across Europe operating margins remained low, hampered by weak volumes. UK hauliers had the best margins, but at 2.5% they were hardly exciting.

However, according to one of the report’s authors, Ti analyst David Buckby, the stagnation disguises a looming upheaval in the industry. Increasing automation of trucks, liberalisation of cabotage and environmental legislation will create new challenges and opportunities for the industry. New technologies and increased access to domestic markets by lower cost operators, especially those based in Central and Eastern Europe will result in a root and branch change to the road freight market environment. Buckby commented: “Vested interests will try to delay the onset of these changes, but it is inevitable that the road freight market of the future will change out of all recognition, even in the short to medium term.”