A "strong" pipeline of new business in its logistics division helped Clipper Group offset a serious decline in turnover at its CV dealerships in the year to the end of April 2013, the firm’s annual accounts reveal.

Group turnover fell 5.1% in the year, from £174.9m to £166.1m, but despite this, pre-tax profit rose 11.1% from £4.1m to £4.6m, representing a rise in margin from 2.36% to 2.77%.

Clipper’s logistics activities during the year generated just under £99m in revenue, up almost 7% on the previous twelve months. Around 10% of this was generated by its German subsidiary.

Its CV distribution business, however – consisting of Iveco and Fiat dealerships Northern Commercials (Mirfield) and Stormont Truck and Van - suffered a near 18% drop in revenue from £83.2m to £68.3m, a decrease the directors said was "largely arising in lower margin fleet vehicle sales".

Staff numbers averaged 1,998 during the year, up from 1,911 in 2012, thanks to 118 extra staff engaged in warehousing. There were slight falls in staffing levels, however, in distribution ( down from 350 to 336) and service and maintenance (from 233 to 216).

Commenting on the results, a Clipper Group spokesman said the firm had notched up a number of significant milestones during the year, including the new contract announced right at the end of the year with retailer Morrisons for distribution of its new Nutmeg clothing range.

"We’re delighted that profits have increased yet again and we look forward to the next phase in our growth strategy," added the spokesman. "The business continues to grow in both size and expertise, as we seek to cement our reputation as an internationally renowned name in retail logistics."

Clipper Group Holdings  – key figures, 12 months to 30 April 2013

  • Group turnover from continuing operations: £166.1m (2012: £174.9m).
  • Group pre-tax profit from continuing operations: £4.6m (2012: £4.1m)
  • Logistics division turnover: £98.8m (2012: 92.6m)
  • CV distribution turnover: £68.3m (2012: £83.2m)
  • Group net debt reduced to £15.2m (2012: £16.8m)