Teaming up for the long haul
Authorities give green light – prelude to expansion. The takeover of Universal Transport by Gruber Logistics has now officially been approved. It represents a strategic pillar for further pan-European market penetration for the South Tyrolean family-owned firm.
It was simply a good fit. The two medium-sized logistics firms Gruber Logistics, from South Tyrol (Italy), and Universal Transport (UT), from Paderborn (Germany), have implemented a merger they first announced in August (see page 14 of ITJ 31-35/2022). The statement was made possible by the antitrust authorities’ approval of the move.
The takeover is legally effective retroactively from 1 January 2022 and covers Universal Transport “lock, stock and barrel”, as Martin Gruber elaborated in an online press conference held on 20 September. Two representatives from Universal Transport, Holger Dechant and Markus Voss, have joined the board of Gruber Logistics.
The annual corporate figures show that these two firms are hidden champions that both benefited during the recent boom. Gruber Logistics, founded in 1936, achieved organic growth of 28.4% in 2021. It expects this figure to rise to about 30% in 2022. The family-owned company generates its annual sales volume of approximately EUR 500 million at 39 locations in 13 countries. With Universal Transport on board the figure will rise to around EUR 650 million. UT, which is also an asset-based company, brought in about 700 employees,350 vehicles and an annual turnover of around EUR 185 million.
Differing profiles – common goals
How will the slogan ‘One Vision, One Team’ be imbued with life? Gruber sees good opportunities through parallel structures. In business terms he has ascertained “hardly any overlaps” between the two firms, however, as 80% of Gruber’s business focuses on international transport.
Dechant sees things similarly. Universal Transport is particularly strong in the local market – and of course in oversized and heavylift transport. It also brings in special expertise in the transport of pre-cast concrete parts, wind power elements, trams and locomotives.
“We’re now the new European market leader for heavy goods transport by road,” Gruber said with pride. Hearing a critical enquiry concerning this statement he responded with a wink that the opposite will have to be proven first.
“We’re driven westward”
The acquisition of Universal Transport is one of several milestones that Gruber Logistics says puts it on target to become a pan-European company. “The move into Germany was important, because 25% of European freight is handled there, “Gruber said. “If you’re strong in Germany, it’s easier to expand to the rest of Europe,” he continued.
In fact, the company is currently looking to further add to its existing business activities in ten European countries, including the Baltic states, Poland, Czechia and Romania.
“We’re driven westward,” Gruber added, outlining the goal of developing business in France beyond existing traffic, opening up runs to and from the Iberian Peninsula and growing in the United Kingdom too. “We’ve had our own offices there since 2022, but we still have plenty of potential,” Gruber believes.
Beyond that the new alliance hasn’t forgotten its employees. In line with Dechant’s credo that “there’s no forwarding without people; machines can be bought” the employees of the South Tyrolean and German divisions will be brought together in mixed teams and groups.