Another year of decline, says new road transport report

The European road freight market will experience another year of decline in 2013 according to provisional figures contained in the latest report by Transport Intelligence, European Road Freight Transport 2013.

Due to slowing economic growth in northern Europe, Germany in particular, the market overall is projected to shrink by 0.6% in 2013. This follows a further decline of 0.7% in 2012.

Despite the weak market environment as a whole, there were stronger performing regions. Some markets in Eastern Europe saw positive development, whilst in Western Europe the Netherlands was the best performing market as a result of strong intra-EU trade. In fact Europe’s international road freight sector grew by 1.6% although this was not enough to offset declines caused by the struggling domestic road freight markets.

Although Ti’s analysts believe that the situation will improve, only a slow recovery is predicted for the European road freight market. A CAGR of 2.3% is forecasted for the four year period from the end of 2012 to the end of 2016 as the economy in Europe gradually improves.

Commenting on the report’s findings, Ti’s Chief Executive, John Manners-Bell said, ‘Since the slump in the road freight market in 2009, there has only been a very weak recovery. The market is still well below its peak of 2008 and we don’t believe it will recover to these levels until after 2016. The performance of the largest road freight operators is testament to this tough environment with average margins less than 3%.’

He concluded, ‘Whilst other industries are receiving support from governments, the hyper-competitive road freight industry seems only to attract more burdens. The French ecotaxe is one example of this – an ill-thought through and poorly executed policy which will only result in even lower margins.’