Contract wins to see 750 new jobs at Clipper

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ENTREPRENEUR Steve Parkin said he expects to create 750 new jobs this year after his fashion logistics business won new contracts in the retail industry.

Morrisons has hired Clipper Logistics to distribute Nutmeg, its first own-brand clothing range, to stores across the UK.

SuperGroup awarded the Leeds-based business a major contract to handle online and in-store distribution for its Superdry and Cult brands.

Both deals were announced this week and Mr Parkin said the company is close to agreeing new contracts.

Clipper specialises in third-party logistics for online sales and is benefiting as retailers expand multiple sales channels.

“That’s where the growth is,” said chairman Mr Parkin. “Year on year, e-fulfilment has grown by 85 per cent.

“Clipper has carved a niche for itself and is recognised as the leader in e-fulfilment in Europe.”

The company has six sites in Germany and partner sites in France and Spain to support large retail contracts on the continent.

Mr Parkin said Germany has Europe’s most advanced online retail sector, but is still five years behind the UK.

Around 15 per cent of the UK population shop online, compared to 4 per cent in Germany, although the German market is growing rapidly, he added.

Clipper handles goods for customers including Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, John Lewis, Harvey Nichols, Marks & Spencer, New Look, British American Tobacco and Aurora, the owner of Coast, Oasis and Warehouse.

The company will generate revenues of more than £200m this year, said Mr Parkin.

David Hodkin, finance director, said the UK economy is performing better than statistics suggest and retail volumes are holding up.

Mr Hodkin said: “If you look at the growth in employment, it contradicts the impression that GDP is stagnant.

“When we look at the volumes our customers are passing through there’s no sign of a depressed economy.”

Retailers with multi-channel operations – in-store and online – are faring better than those who are reliant on the high street for trade. Mr Parkin said: “If you’re a retailer and you haven’t got an online offering, you’re stuffed.”

He said the retail sector will continue to evolve as consumers spend more and more time online.

Mr Parkin said: “It’s a moving feast. Technology is moving at a pace. If I look at my wife, 90 per cent of what she buys is online.

“As technology gets more developed and available to the mass market it makes it a lot easier for people.

“Everyone is getting an iPad and phones which can order online.”

Industry experts say the UK had 83m mobile subscribers at the end of last year, including 36m smartphone users. Britain is regarded as a world leader in mobile adoption.

Mr Hodkin said the “commercial revolution” is equivalent to the industrial revolution.

Clipper has grown to employ around 3,000 people. Mr Parkin said the company will create 400 new warehouse jobs at sites in Leeds and Selby this year.

Clipper will service the SuperGroup contract from a new 500,000 sq ft facility in Burton-on-Trent, which is close to main parcel carrier hubs.

Julian Dunkerton, chief executive of SuperGroup, said the new centre will be highly efficient and enable his business to generate financial and operational benefits “and provide a platform... to meet the increasing demands of e-fulfilment”.

SuperGroup has more than 100 stores across Britain and Europe. Its clothes are sold in 54 countries worldwide.

Clipper’s contract with Morrisons is serviced from Leeds. The Bradford-based retailer said last year that it would launch its own clothing brand to expand its non-food offering.

Nutmeg’s debut collection features children’s clothing from ages 0-12 and a range of adult clothes.

Mr Parkin founded Clipper in 1992 with a team of three and one van driver.

The company won a number of important contracts in its early years with retailers such as Huddersfield-based Bon Marche and Sir Philip Green which helped it establish a strong foothold in the transportation, haulage and warehousing market.

Mr Parkin, who was born in Middleton and left school at 16, is a lifelong Leeds United fan and has been in talks with the club’s new owner GFH Capital about buying a 51 per cent stake in the business.

He said yesterday that “it’s an ongoing situation” but declined to comment further.

Mr Parkin has gone on the record in the past about his ambition to float Clipper on the London Stock Exchange.

Mr Parkin told the Yorkshire Post: “I’m very comfortable where I am in the business. We have a strong balance sheet and strong cash reserves. Would I still like to float? That’s a yes. If the market is right, even this year...”

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