Kuehne+Nagel’s decision to sell a major part of its UK business last year resulted in a 9.3% fall in turnover in its international contract logistics division in the first quarter of 2021, the group reported this week.

The results also revealed that when the division was sold to XPO in March last year it had made a loss of £3.9m in the first three months of 2020.

The sale, which followed a major review of its contract logistics business, included the drinks logistics, food services and retail and technology divisions, which generated a turnover of around £617m in 2019 and employed 7,500 staff. Kuehne+Nagel retained its UK pharma and healthcare transport divisions.

Reporting its results for the first quarter of 2021, Kuehne+Nagel International said that in the period the group’s contract logistics division returned to organic growth of 4%, in line with the market. However it added that “as a result of the divestment of part of the UK business as of 1 January 2021, turnover declined in the first quarter of 2021”.

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The contract logistics unit’s net turnover of over CHF 1.1bn (£864.7m) was 9.3% below the previous year; EBIT, however, increased by 123.5% to CHF 38m (£29.9m).

The results also revealed that before its sale, in the first three months of 2020 the UK contract logistics division contributed CHF 164m (£129m) of net turnover, CHF 146m (£114.9m) of gross profit and a loss for the period of approximately CHF 5m (£3.9m).

In its global road logistics unit the group reported a robust start to 2021, with “strong demand” for transport services, especially for pharma and e-commerce fulfilment, adding that its remaining UK business recorded a “noticeable recovery” after a weak start to the year.

The unit's net turnover saw a slight rise of 0.8% to CHF 870m (£684.5m) in the first quarter of 2021. However, EBIT leapt 41% to CHF 24m (£18.9m) in the period.