Online retail key to Clipper Logistics growth in post-IPO results

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E-commerce drove strong performance at Clipper Logistics last year, as the recently-floated company published its first results as a listed entity.

The Leeds-based firm, which works with major UK brands including Morrisons, John Lewis and Tesco, saw group revenue climb by 25.2% to £201.2m, with group adjusted earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) rising by 10% to £9.6m.

Much of its growth was generated by developments in its online retail business, with adjusted EBIT for its e-fulfilment division up 49.4% to £3.7m.

The full-year results to April 2014 are the firm’s first since its IPO in June this year. Its share price has risen by about 35% since it began trading.

The £2m cost of the IPO in part contributed to a 26% fall in profit, from £3.8m in 2013 to £2.8m in 2014. Restructuring costs also added to the drop.

Executive chairman and founder Steve Parkin said performance was in line with expectations, adding it is “poised for further growth”.

The company added a number of high-profile clients to its books last year, including fashion e-tailer ASOS, SuperDry parent company SuperGroup and luggage specialists Antler.

Clipper CEO Tony Mannix told The Yorkshire Post the company aims to be “the retail solutions provider of choice”, building long-term partnerships with the businesses it serves.

“We need to ensure we’ve got the agility to respond to retailers’ needs - that we are doing things well and doing things quickly,” he said. The company has added around 1,000,000 sq ft to distribution and support sites to support its aims.

It also developed a specialist returns processing service, named Boomerang - “because returns keep coming back” - in order to meet retailers’ needs and customer expectations.

Mr Mannix said: “Returns need to be as simple as buying a product. Why should it take any longer to return something and get the money back onto a credit card?”

Shoppers are quick to use Facebook and Twitter to complain about slow returns services, Mr Mannix said. Retailers may also have anything from 20% to 40% of inventory in returns. Getting the process right is “vital” for retailers, meaning the expansion of Boomerang is “a huge growth opportunity” for Clipper, he said.

The firm also branched into Europe, acquiring Germany’s R. Geist Spedition and signing German global fashion brand S.Oliver as a client. People investment has been central to integrating non-UK sites, Mr Mannix said, by using local expertise to complement Clipper UK support.