Despite volumes being hit by the first Covid-19 pandemic lockdown last year, the boom in e-commerce has seenPallet-Track rally to deliver a 57% leap in pre-tax profit.

Reporting its annual results to 31 January 2021, the pallet network, which has over 70 shareholder members, revealed that hub revenue jumped by 9.5% to £18.5m (2020: £16.9m) in the period, with network delivery revenue rising 4.8% to £92.9m (2020: £88.6m). Total revenue for the year came in at £111.3m, up from £105.5m, with pre-tax profit rising 57% to £5.5m (2020: £3.5m).

In its strategic report on the annual results, the company said it is confident the network will continue to perform strongly this year. It stated: “Although there was an initial impact on sales volumes in April and May 2020, activity levels increased and exceeded the original forecast in the year. This level of activity is expected to continue going forward.”

It added: “The directors are satisfied their response to the Covid crisis has been both swift and decisive and are confident that sales levels and cash levels will remain strong."

These latest annual results also mark Nigel Parkes' final year as the MD of Pallet-Track. Parkes, who founded the network and remains a significant shareholder, stepped down in February this year.

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He launched Pallet-Track in Wednesbury in January 2004 with the network moving 852 pallets on its first night of operation. Pallet-Track now has a 267,000sq ft central hub in Millfields Road, Wolverhampton, a southern hub in Welwyn Garden City and a northern hub in Wigan, Greater Manchester and tranships in excess of 18,000 pallets per day.

Parkes was replaced by the network’s chief financial officer Caroline Green, who became the network’s chief executive. She recently added her voice to rising industry demand for the government to reverse its decision to block emergency work visas for EU labour, warning that a quick solution is needed to the driver shortage.

Green said: “The business recovered exceptionally well from the initial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and we were able to exceed our original forecasts for the year.

“The changes we've seen in the marketplace are a reflection of consumer buyer behaviour, with the shift towards home deliveries showing no sign of letting up. We are confident the decisive action we took when the pandemic hit has put us in a good position to deal with this demand on a long-term basis.

“However, it remains a very challenging market with volatile volumes and the ongoing HGV driver shortages the industry is facing.

“Our continued success is testament to the efforts of our fantastic team and shareholder members, who have continued to perform brilliantly in the most challenging of circumstances.”