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Asco boss says ‘loyal’ employees are helping to set the Aberdeen company on a path for growth

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Asco has not “missed a beat” during the Covid-19 pandemic and continues to get kit to where it is needed amid the current woes affecting UK supply chains, the global logistics firm’s chief executive, Peter France, has said.

Mr France said Aberdeen-based Asco was not suffering HGV driver shortages like those seen elsewhere.

But he warned the ongoing road haulage crisis and fuel scarcity in some parts of the UK were “not helpful” to businesses – and may have a “very negative” long-term impact.

“We have just got to do our best to make sure it doesn’t impact on us”, he added.

Asco’s “loyal” drivers are helping the company complete orders on time, he said.
He continued: “We haven’t missed a beat during Covid and we’re maintaining that level of service now.”

Mr France was speaking as Asco reported “positive” results for 2020 and “key achievements” including setting up two new international operating bases.

Last year’s revenue came in at £346.8 million, down from nearly £548m in 2019 as the pandemic impacted markets in an “unprecedented year for business”, the firm said, adding: “Our response to Covid-19 was swift, decisive and focused on delivering a supportive, measured and compassionate approach to sustaining our business, supporting our clients and protecting our people.”

ASCO sustainability © Supplied by ASCO
ASCO CEO Peter France

Asco posted wider pre-tax losses of £46.7m for 2020, compared with a £30.6m deficit the year before. Underlying earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation fell to £16.1m last year, from £21.5m in 2019, which the company said was largely due to the impact of Covid-19 and lower oil prices hitting drilling activity in its oil and gas market.

Asco reduced its global workforce by about 10% during the year, leaving it with around 1,300 employees in more than 70 global locations at the start of 2021.

Mr France said the job cuts affected all parts of the business, including operations in Aberdeen and Peterhead.

The oil and gas market has improved this year, thanks to higher commodity prices, and Asco can also benefit from new opportunities in the “energy transition”, he added.

“We are proud of how resilient and proactive Asco and its team have been”, he said, adding: “We continue to be aligned in our aim to build our exceptional reputation within the global energy market and focus on supporting our clients through what has undoubtedly been a challenging period.

“Our customer-centric approach has been pivotal to securing a number of key contracts this year, branching into new markets and locations.

“As we move towards a net-zero carbon emissions future, we have robust plans in place to support our objectives of operating more efficiently, and we will continue to invest in our local communities through supporting causes we are passionate about.”

Asco also reported the lowest level of recordable health and safety incidents in more than 10 years.

Its two new bases are in Dakar, in Senegal, and New Brunswick, Canada.

Asco has risen from humble beginnings in a small warehouse in Aberdeen in 1967, to a company turning over hundreds of millions of pounds annually.

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