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From the Worcester News -  Friday 20th Feb 2004

LOGISTICS specialist Taylors of Martley has restructured its business to drive it forward into 2004. The £28m turnover firm, based at Martley, near Worcester, has created three regions, with dedicated managers in each area to steer performance.

Celia Adams, finance director, said there were many issues facing the logistics sector - which was a "challenging industry" - but the firm was confident the new structure would help it achieve its targets for 2004. The national driver shortage had reached "crisis" proportions and the new European Working Time Directive would have significant cost implications.

"Truck driving is not the sort of thing youngsters want to do any more," said Mrs Adams. "The average age of drivers is now late forties, plus there has been a lack of investment in training over the last 20 years."

The firm, which employs around 200 drivers, has "stabilised" the situation with a "fairly good" pay increase, but Mrs Adams said there was always a need for good drivers. She said the Working Time Directive - due to be rolled out to "mobile workers" in March 2005 - would increase costs for the industry as it prevents employees working more than 48 hours a week.

"We pay our drivers, on average, for a 61-hour week, so we have got to reconfigure the way we measure everything," she said. "It's going to be a cost on industry generally, as people adjust to reflect the fact that the working week will gradually reduce. We're going to have to bring in a raft of paperwork."

Congestion charging, such as that introduced in London a year ago, was not an issue, as the firm delivered mainly to large factories on the outskirts of towns. Mrs Adams said the new M6 toll road "should help" the company but she was waiting to see.

"It should relieve congestion on the M6 - that's what we want - but we're waiting to see if it is going to make a difference. It's not had the desired effect yet, but it's early days."

The new company structure will see David Bratton, who joined Taylors in 2000, heading up the southern region. He is responsible for one of Taylor's biggest contracts, a "just-in-time" warehouse facility for Rexam Beverage Can Europe Ltd.

Adrian Fleming, who joined Taylors in May 2003, is the northern regional manager, and will run the transport operations for Rexam Speciality Packaging. Scott Hayward, who joined Taylors in 2002, is regional manager for the central area with overall responsibility for Taylors' automotive division. He will run operations for major automotive suppliers and head up Taylors' partnership with MG Rover, which involves running a 250,000sq ft distribution centre from Rover's Longbridge, Birmingham.