A Northern Ireland-headquartered haulage company is investing more than £2m to expand its operations in Lancashire.
HMT Shipping is increasing its workforce by 20 to 120 and has acquired a site in Preston, which will act as a distribution centre for its operations in the region.
The company, which also has operations in Dublin, Dundalk and Heysham, is predicting 30 per cent growth over the next 12 months during what director Jarlath Magee says promises to be a "strong year".
"We have had very good growth in our pallet business in the last few years, particularly in the north west of England, where we have won several major distribution contracts with blue chip clients in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector," added Magee.
"The new distribution centre which we are acquiring, having outgrown our existing premises, will provide us with a larger, better-located base with direct motorway access to further expand in areas such as Lancaster, Blackburn, Burnley and the Fylde coast."
Magee added that the expansion has "significant ongoing benefits" for the company's existing cross-channel business.
"The new facility will enable us to offer warehousing, pick and pack and inventory control for Irish customers with overnight delivery to every region in the UK."
Girvan Gault, head of South East NI Business Centre at Ulster Bank, added: "HMT’s new distribution centre comprises a 47,000 sq ft warehouse and 4,000 sq ft office space set on 3.5 acres.
"It is just four miles from Preston city centre and within easy access to some of the main arterial routes in the North of England, so it will act as an excellent base for the company’s ongoing growth in the area. We are very pleased to have played an important role in enabling it to happen."
HMT Shipping was established more than 15 years ago and has grown to be one of the leading transport companies throughout the UK and Ireland.