Not many people realise this, but in 2019 Archbold turned 100 years old. Over this last century, we’ve endured two world wars, the Great Depression, nationalisation, industrial unrest in the 1970s, and 2008’s infamous Credit Crunch.
War and Civvy Street – 1919
Our story begins at the turn of the last century with young John Frederick Archbold. Aged just 16 he fled the family to fight in the Boer War in South Africa. Like so many other boys, John lied about his age to enlist and serve king and country. He was also a wilful character, fleeing to the other side of the world when travel was all but impossible for most people.
John Archbold and two officer friends bought a Steam Sentinel truck or two at an army auction. A Sentinel’s gross weight was eight tons (compared with today’s 44 tonne modern trucks) and looked something like the one pictured. Using their hardearned knowledge from the Transport Corps, they formed a business which ran from 1919 to 1929.
1932 – WWII
Like John Archbold, his father, Don Archbold took on huge contracts far beyond what their small fleet of vehicles could cope with. His motto at the time was ‘first get the business, then work how to do it!’ – an excusable approach given the circumstances, but perhaps one best left in the annals of history. To cope with the new workload, they subcontracted to small hauliers and this soon became the mainstay
of the business.
Then, as if one world war followed by catastrophic economic downturn wasn’t making life tough enough, world war broke out again in 1939. Once more, our forebears found themselves transporting food and supplies to our brave troops abroad, in yet another important logistical challenge.
1947 – Nationalisation
In 1947, the post-war Labour government nationalised long distance haulage into British road Services (BrS). Don Archbold, who preferred to remain an independent trader, used the proceeds of selling his business to buy a small coach and holiday company, called Service Motors.
Archbold Transport quickly expanded, with clearing house offices at every port in Britain, as well as Manchester, Bradford, Birmingham, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Torquay. The company transported heavy machinery and textiles from its Leeds base, exporting them worldwide through the ports of Liverpool, London, and Hull.
1950’s – Joint Venture
Long before the creation of standardised international shipping containers, Archbold pioneered a container service between Leeds and Paris. This collaboration was a joint venture between our company and Mory of Paris (who also still operate, in France). The containerised service operated some time between the late 1950s and the early 1960s; long before the familiar ISO-type shipping container was invented.
1960’s – The ‘Big A’ Brand is Born
By the late 1960s, Archbold had modernised into a well-organised company and distinctive national brand. Proper financial controls were now in place, as well as employee incentives and a clear focus on profitable operations.
At about the same time, Archbold’s distinctive livery was created. The famous ‘big A’ proudly adorned every vehicle in our fleet, consolidating our brand and making us instantly recognisable on every motorway in the UK.
1972 – New Headquarters
Before 1972 Archbold traded from various redundant mills, factory buildings and offices. But with our company expanding it was time for dedicated premises to match our ambition. So in the same year, Archbold invested in a purpose-built depot and head office in Morley, south-west Leeds.
Although the investment saddled us with a huge loan, the increasing value of the property underpinned the finances of Archbold enterprises for years to come. With its convenient location and excellent transport links to the motorway network via the M62, this new HQ helped establish our reputation for timely deliveries and superb customer service.
1980’s – Ford Motor Company Contract
Everyone at Archbold appreciates the impact this contract had on the fortunes of our business. It increased our turnover by a massive 50%, and without it we probably wouldn’t be where we are now. But how did it come about?
In the early 1980s Ford took a radical step: it changed its purchasing policy from factory-delivered to ex-works. Instead of hundreds of suppliers delivering to its 30 or so plants, Ford divided the UK into four main areas. It then appointed four UK logistics companies to collect parts from its suppliers, consolidating small consignments into full truckloads, each assigned to a factory. Just In Time (JIT) production had arrived, with each factory now receiving one or two full truckloads every day, instead of dozens.
1993 – Archbold Carshop Ltd
In 1993 we sold the IVECO dealership, but continued to sell cars through Archbold Carshop Ltd. Today, it’s a very successful business in its own right, along with a busy accident repair centre for all makes of car and light commercial vehicle.
2008 – The 2008 Crash
Business looked good in the new millenium. We were now a member of PalletForce – a well-established nationwide pallet distribution network, looking to expand our logistics operation. Part of this plan involved strengthening our presence in the Midlands, so Archbold bought Direct Parcels Ltd (DPS) in Nuneaton.
Then the 2008 global financial crisis happened. Integrating a new company into the group at the height of a recession, whilst shouldering a significant bank loan to fund the purchase was an enormous challenge. But with patience and persistence – a recurring theme in the Archbold story, our new warehousing and distribution depot in the Midlands took shape. Now, over ten years later, the operation remains a crucial part of the Archbold national logistics business.
Now – Over 100 Years Old
Archbold is still in family hands – owned by Xavier, Yannis, Bénédicte and Dominique and their parents, led by our MD Alan Maher.
Our business has come a long way since the days of secondhand steam-powered trucks. We’ve emerged as an efficient warehouse backed e-fulfillment operation, with a thriving European and international presence, alongside a solid UK pallet distribution and trunking network.
Despite present day uncertainties like Brexit, Archbold Logistics is yet again adapting to a changing world. We invest heavily in technology, vehicles, property and infrastructure, underpinned by the support of highly dedicated and qualified staff.