The APC has blamed a dip in annual profits on post-pandemic buying trends, inflation and recent investments in staff and depots.

The independent parcels firm reported profit before tax of £6.41m for the year ending 31 March 2022, a 30% decrease on the year before.

The effects of the pandemic significantly affected the record results of 2020/21, with parcel volumes surging and demand for delivery services at an all-time high.

While e-commerce has remained elevated compared to pre-pandemic levels, the company said customers are working towards a ‘new normal’ with parcel volumes reducing.

The war in Ukraine also had a significant impact on the network, it added, along with rises in the cost of living, which affected consumer spending, and soaring fuel, energy and labour costs.

The APC invested significantly in its staff and depots during the period to help build for future growth. In particular, it implemented an increase in driver and warehouse operative wages, helping to reward and recognise the efforts of its workforce and also attract and retain drivers during the nationwide HGV driver shortage.

In the past year the company has responded to industry-wide issues of recruiting and retaining drivers, implementing its ‘warehouse to wheels’ scheme. Since launch, the company has reportedly seen unprecedented levels of interest, with 30% under the age of 30, and 12% female.

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The APC has also worked closely with its depots to overcome some of the challenges faced across the network. Local customer service from member depots was paramount, it said, enabling close contact with customers and allowing the business to adapt and make changes when necessary.

Commenting on the results, APC chief exective Jonathan Smith said: “This year we have been extremely considered about how we can best support our people, depots and customers through such unprecedented times. As a business we’ve absorbed a significant amount of inflationary cost to protect our customers from the ongoing economic turbulence, and our agility as a business has allowed us to re-shape and respond to their needs quickly during times of change. We have also continued to invest heavily in our workforce, the heart of our business, to ensure they feel recognised for their important contribution and benefit from the long-term career opportunities available to them.

“There is no doubt that the outlook remains uncertain. But as a business we remain committed to building for future growth, and the growth of our customers. As we go into 2022-23 we’re already making plans that allow us to continue investing in our network and our people, and further strengthen our position in the market.

“We’re well placed to navigate the continued evolution of our industry. Demand for APC licences remains high and the passion, pride and entrepreneurialism that comes from our people and network ensures our customers will continue to be served well.”

Added APC network director Dervla Gallagher: “As we came out of Covid we entered into a new period of uncertainty, reflected to an extent across our 34,000 customers. Although the world is still changing, we know from experience that local entrepreneurs are very strong and often very resilient, proving their agility and entrepreneurialism in such turbulent times. Across our network we have worked hard to navigate the changing habits of consumers and needs of our customers, and quickly shape our business to ensure we continue to provide a great service to our customers.”