Range change
Truck & Driver|August 2021
After a gap of 13 years, Renault trucks have reappeared in the unique colours of MacRitchie Highland Distribution. T&D takes the high road to Inverness to meet owners, Donald and Catriona MacRitchie
John Henderson

At a glance

Make & Model Renault Range-T High 520 T6x2

Pusher TML tractor unit

Engine Renault DTi 13-litre Euro 6d

Power 520hp @ 1430 - 1800rpm

Torque 2550Nm @1000 - 1430rpm

Gearbox 12-speed Optidriver automated manual

Fast approaching its 20th anniversary in 2022, MacRitchie Highland Distribution has thrived by combining blue sky thinking, alongside traditional Scottish values to deliver a range of road transport services for its customer base.

Few firms based so far north operate four or five European services a week and heading in the other direction, there’s also four or five loads to the Outer Hebrides every week. Add in three Glasgow trunks per day, a busy general haulage remit, along with a daily artic supply run for the company’s Wick depot for home deliveries and you’ll get the idea that there’s no such thing as an average day here. That variety keeps owners, Donald and Catriona MacRitchie on their toes, but the couple still find time to be welcoming hosts for T&D’s visit. Outside in the yard, their six children, who all work either full-time or part-time here, are busy checking manifests to load the next trailers scheduled to depart.

Our interview takes place in the company’s boardroom cum training room, which like the rest of its “grand designs” style office building, is artistically colour coded in the firm’s white and purple corporate identity.

Donald originally hails from Ness on the Isle of Lewis and Catriona was brought up a short ferry trip away in Ullapool. The pair have built up an unrivalled knowledge of business across the Highlands and Islands since 1995. That date was pivotal for the MacRitchies, as it marked the founding of Skye Express with a Transit van, running cargo between Inverness and the misty Isle. By 2002, Skye Express employed 30 people and ran a fleet of vans. After taking stock, they sold the operation as a going concern and then started MacRitchie Highland Distribution.

Unsurprisingly, vans got the wheels of business turning again and after Catriona sat her transport manager’s CPC qualification, an ex-JCS Express 7.5-tonner was acquired. Since then it’s been onwards and upwards with progressively larger vehicles running over longer distance services.

MacRitchie’s truck parc has always been a mixed marque affair, with at least three different manufacturers’ products present at any time during the last two decades. The firm’s first Renault truck arrived in Spring 2008 and took the shape of a 450hp Premium 6x2 mid-lift tractor unit. “We based the Premium at our Bothwell depot to keep it close to Renault’s Bellshill dealership. David Quinn, who is now the depot manager there, drove the truck and it performed quite acceptably,” Donald recalls, continuing “Glenrothes-based haulier and Renault operator Gordon Hunter is a regular visitor here and he’s always saying good things about his Range-T Highs.”

Renault’s powertrain DNA was also an attraction, as MacRitchie Highland Distribution had already built up considerable experience with Volvo trucks. “Dealership location has always been a factor in our buying decisions, but of course, the back-up and service levels must be good too,” Catriona notes, adding “Renault’s service point at Elgin Truck & Van Centre Ltd is literally next door to our yard. We’ve built up a great working relationship with them through 26-tonners from another marque we operate, so we’d no hesitation in choosing Renault trucks.” Donald also mentions local Renault transport solutions executive, Keith Johnstone, who has worked hard to build trust in the business. “Keith is a great guy who has always calls in to see how we’re faring and keep up to date with how business is evolving. We were delighted to give him the order.”

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