The UK’s best known road haulage firm, Eddie Stobart, was today sold for £138m to create a merged transport and logistics company headquartered at Appleton Thorn near Warrington.

The company, famous for its 900-strong fleet of green and red trucks, is being bought by former property group Westbury, which owns the port at Runcorn and has warehousing and rail freight facilities at Widnes.

The new business, combining the road transport, warehouse and rail freight operations of Eddie Stobart, with Westbury’s growing ports and logistics business, will be stock-market listed.

Westbury has also announced the acquisition of Widnes-based freight handling firm O’Connor for £23m. It plans to create over 1,000 new jobs there.

The merged business will be renamed Stobart Group, with Eddie Stobart’s current owners, Andrew Tinkler and William Stobart, remaining with the enlarged group.

Eddie Stobart was founded in the 1950s and now operates from 27 sites across the UK, as well as one in Belgium.

Mr Tinkler and Mr Stobart – the son of original founder Eddie – will hold 28.5 per cent of the new company.

Eddie Stobart has a three-year deal with Tesco to move goods from Daventry in the Midlands to the super- market giant’s distribution centre at Livingston, Scotland, by freight train.

Today’s deal creates a business with about 2,000 staff. It is likely to be approved by Westbury shareholders in mid-September. Law firm Halliwells and accountants BDO Stoy Hayward advised on the deal.

Eddie Stobart delivers 11m cans for Coca-Cola every week, and its trucks travel 80m miles in a year – equivalent to going to the Moon and back 167 times.

Westbury’s investment manager, Richard Burrell, said: “We believe that we have the makings of a compelling multi-national logistics business which will bring valuable benefits to customers and shareholders.”

Eddie Stobart has fans and `spotters’ who collect memorabilia and attend events – they will now be able to own a part of the company.