Clipper Logistics has defied UK high street turmoil and Brexit uncertainty to deliver "impressive" revenue growth in the first six months of the financial year, boosted by "strong growth" in e-fulfilment and returns management, according to its interim results.

Announcing Clipper Logistics half year results for the six months to 31 October 2019, executive chairman Steve Parkin said performance had been boosted by new operations with major customers including Hope & Ivy, Simba Sleep, SLG, Shop Direct and M&S, which accounted for half the revenue growth in the period. Another quarter was due to revenue growth in mainland Europe.

The company also saw growth in its click and collect Clicklink joint venture with John Lewis Partnership which won deals with Cotswold Traders and Cotton Traders and commenced a new operation with John Lewis and Boden. Clicklink's customer base has risen to 30 customers to date.

Clipper Logistics also continued its push into automation with the launch of an automation programme with Superdry in the period and trials of robotic technology with "a number of other UK cutomers", the company revealed.

The logistics giant also revealed the loss of two customers in the half year - Brissi, which ceased trading earlier this year, and Go Outdoors  which decided to take its operations at Clipper's Swadlincote facility in-house.

Read more

The logistics firm announced a 12% revenue increase to £254.6m for the six months to October 31, up from £227.9m compared to the same period last year. Pre-tax profit grew 9.5% to £10.1m in the period, up from £9.3m in the previous year.

Parkin said: "The group continues to see impressive revenue and EBIT performance in the first six months of the year, largely driven by the particularly strong growth in e-fulfilment and returns management and an improving contribution from our Clicklink joint venture."

Looking to the future Parkin said: "Trading has continued to be positive post-period end, with the key Black Friday trading weekend seeing record daily volumes in certain sites, and we expect full year earnings to be broadly in line with the board's expectations."

"Notwithstanding the difficulties facing the UK high street and the uncertainties of he UK political environment in the current year, Clipper remains positive about the longer-term outlook and believe the group is well positioned to achieve further growth in both the UK and internationally."

The company offered no further information on the approach Sun European Partners made to buy Clipper Logistics in November this year. Sun European has until 18 December to make an offer.

Last month it was reported that Steve Parkin, who founded Clipper Logistics, was preparing a £300m takeover bid to take the company private, with Sun European.

Sources suggested the board has become frustrated with the restrictions of being a publicly quoted company which the board felt hampered the day-to-day running of the company.

Clipper Logistics is keen to invest in automation in its warehouses and other areas of the business but sources said  the short-term nature of six-monthly reporting and accounting are counter productive to long-term investment paybacks.