Clipper’s £20m financing deal to create more jobs

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A YORKSHIRE-based logistics services firm is set to hire more staff after signing a £20m finance deal.

The Clipper Group has secured new banking facilities with Santander Corporate Banking.

The agreement will enable the Leeds-based business to expand its e-fulfilment division, which provides logistic services and support for retailers’ online operations.

Clipper has achieved rapid growth over the last decade, and is one of the biggest providers of third party logistics in the UK.

The business has a major presence in the retail sector, where its customers include Asda, John Lewis, Morrisons and Harvey Nichols.

A company spokesman said: “While Clipper continues to provide traditional logistics services for its clients, the business is strategically focused on becoming the largest third party provider of e-fulfilment services, to support the needs of retailers as they adopt a multi-channel retailing approach.”

The Clipper Group was founded by entrepreneur Steve Parkin in 1992 with one van delivering clothing for fashion stores.

It has grown rapidly in recent years through a combination of organic growth and acquisitions.

The acquisition of Gagewell Transport in 2001 dramatically enhanced Clipper’s position in the logistics market, and created a company with a turnover of £16m.

Other acquisitions followed, and in December 2005, Clipper bought Northern Commercials, the Iveco and Fiat truck and van dealer based in Brighouse and Leeds, which took group sales beyond £120m.

Mr Parkin, who is the chairman and chief executive of Clipper, said yesterday: “Our goal is to continue to develop and grow our business, and to achieve a stock market listing within the next five years.

“Having a supportive funding partner is a key part of that strategy.”

Nick Machugh, relationship director at Santander Corporate Banking, said: “We look forward to working with Clipper over the coming years and helping them to deliver on their growth aspirations.”

David Hodkin, the Clipper Group finance director, said that in “the longer term” the deal would certainly mean more jobs at Clipper, which has 2,000 staff.

Over the last year, the company’s turnover has grown by 10 per cent to £200m.

Clipper has two commercial vehicle businesses within the group, as well as an expanding logistics business in Germany.

In an interview with the Yorkshire Post in 2008, Mr Parkin said his long term goal was to create a £1bn turnover business.

He said at the time: “One of my ambitions has always been to be the chairman of a public company. I’ve had that dream since I was a young boy. We’ve spread the ownership of the business. So any flotation of the business would create wealth for literally thousands of people.”

Clipper was advised by Chris Ramage of Cobbetts. Santander Corporate Banking was advised by Kathryn Walters of Eversheds.