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Monday, 01 September 2014

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End of the road for Irlam

A FAMILY haulage firm bought by Cumbrian transport giant Eddie Stobart will be rebranded in the next six months after a U-turn by bosses.

ptstobby
Kings of the road: The haulage giant Stobart has decided to phase out the red James Irlam lorries. Stobart bought the family firm of James Irlam & Sons for £60m in March

The move means the distinctive red lorries belonging to the James Irlam & Sons company will disappear from Britain’s roads.

Stobart chiefs had originally pledged to keep the Irlam identity in tact, but have since changed their minds.

Irlam was bought by Stobart in March in a £60million deal.

Julie Gaskell, Stobart Group communications officer, said: “We’ve got to achieve synergy and savings.

“We weren’t intending to rebrand but it’s just been a natural progression.”

She said drivers were already wearing Stobart uniforms and some lorries had already been painted in the firm’s shade of green and white, but with the Irlam name still on the front.

James Irlam, the founder of the company, began his business in the 1940s as a market gardener. When Manchester Airport was built he relocated to nearby Chelford, and transported milk churns to Manchester dairies, returning with corn supplies for local farms.

From one truck in 1964, the company eventually had 350, and employed 700 people.

The company chairman, Ken Irlam, died almost a year ago and his grandsons David, Michael and Stewart sold the business to Stobart soon after.

Ms Gaskell said David would continue to sit on the Stobart board and Michael and Stewart would retain their shareholdings.

“They’re all excited about the future,” she said.

“The Irlam family joined us because they realised they wouldn’t have the strength to be sustainable in the long-term.”

A plan to switch Stobart’s road haulage HQ to Carlisle Airport, and develop a freight and passenger service there, will be considered by Carlisle City Council on Friday.

MLegg@cngroup.co.uk

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