TIL Group beefs up North Island presence with NZL acquisition

The company is optimistic about the environment for the transport sector.

Transport Investments Ltd has expanded its North Island presence with the purchase of logistics firm NZL Group which it says will operate the privately-held transport group under the same brand and with the same staff.

New Plymouth-based TIL this week completed its acquisition of NZL, expanding its presence in the Bay of Plenty, Hawke's Bay and Waikato to a national footprint from Auckland to Invercargill. TIL operates 600 trucks and has another 220 contractors it can call on, operating in freight, fuel distribution, warehousing and freight forwarding.

Director Alan Terris said the NZL purchase came up and filled the regional gaps TIL wanted to fill and also offered a heavy haulage business.

"We're going to keep it as an existing brand and will get our synergies in the back-office - payroll processes and that sort of thing," Terris said. "All the staff will come across and for us currently, it's business as usual."

As a privately owned company TIL flies under the public radar. However, it's one of the country's biggest transport firms, operating in 53 locations and employing 1,600 people including the 200 or so who came with NZL. Government figures show about 106,100 people were employed in the transport, postal, and warehousing sector in the March quarter.

The NZL acquisition comes hot on the heels of TIL's purchase of Christchurch-based Move Logistics, which employed 300 staff and operated more than 100 trucks.

Terris said the close timing of the acquisitions was coincidental with the Move deal in the pipeline for 18 months and that TIL hadn't made any purchases in the last three years.

TIL doesn't typically go out looking for new acquisitions and instead waits to see what comes along and acts "where we believe we can add value to our existing network and customers", Terris said. The industry's fragmentation meant that there could be more opportunities for consolidation.

The company is optimistic about the environment for the transport sector, although the Kaikoura earthquake underscored the fragility of the network with the disruption to State Highway 1 and the main rail trunk line in the upper South Island, Terris said.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges today told Parliament's transport and industrial relations select committee that the sector was a major beneficiary of the government's planned infrastructure spending.

Bridges said ensuring the resilience of the network required more thoughtful responses by government and the New Zealand Transport Agency, citing the regular slips in the Manawatu Gorge that have closed that part of State Highway 3 for hundreds of days over the past decade. Bridges said he's asked NZTA to look at options to fix the Gorge road, but that would be "a very significant job running into the hundreds of millions of dollars" and that he'll wait to see what comes from the agency's work.