White glove delivery firm Panther Logistics has been acquired by US-based AIT Worldwide Logistics for an undisclosed sum.

The deal will see Panther MD Colin McCarthy step down from the position with commercial director Gary McKelvey (pictured) taking on the role. The company said McCarthy will support McKelvey during "the transition".

The two firms hailed the deal as a ‘new era of investment and innovation’ for Panther and an opportunity for AIT Worldwide Logistics to strengthen its presence in the UK market.

Under the deal, Panther will continue to be run by the existing management team, which the company said was a key factor in the deal.

However, in a statement the company said McCarthy will “hand the reins” to McKelvey.

He will be supported in his new role by McCarthy “to ensure a seamless transition,” it added.

McCarthy joined Panther in 2010, restructuring the business into a two-person delivery company.

A Panther spokeswoman said: "Colin led the original MBO backed by LDC in 2016 and it was always his plan to ultimately hand over the reins. The AIT acquisition has enabled him to do this. However, he will continue to remain involved in supporting Gary McKelvey to ensure a seamless transition. It is very much business as usual with the existing management team remaining in post with Gary – previously commercial director – leading the team.

"The acquisition means that Colin is no longer the owner and his role will be as an advisor to Gary for circa 6 months."

The buyout follows rapid growth at Panther, driven by the increase in online shopping and the award of a number of new contracts. Last week the company announced a three-year extension of its partnership with mattress manufacturer Silentnight.

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In a statement, AIT said both companies had a number of synergies, each specialising in two-person white glove home delivery services in their respective countries.

AIT said the deal will enable it to support Panther’s continued growth in the UK and allow AIT to extend its own presence.

AIT added that the two companies 'share the same values and core philosophies and are passionate about the future of logistics. Both believe in investing in staff opportunities, quality and innovation'.

McCarthy said: “Becoming part of AIT’s expansive global network provides a springboard for further growth and investment. It is a hugely exciting development in Panther’s journey and one which will mark a new era for the business for the benefit of our customers and employees.

“With the growth in online shopping continuing to escalate at unprecedented levels, the quality of delivery has become a key differentiator for many retailers and a major driver for consumers.

“Customer experience is therefore vital. Everything we do is designed with the end customer in mind and we aim to make delivery as easy and convenient as possible.

“Our commitment to service excellence has always been paramount and will continue to form the bedrock of our operation as we enter this latest chapter in the Panther success story.”

AIT president and chief executive, Vaughn Moore added: “I am thrilled to add Panther’s renowned two-man delivery professionals to our growing organization and wish them all a warm welcome to the team.

“I'm looking forward to the results of blending subject matter experts between our two companies and building off each other’s best practices, particularly in the booming e-commerce space.”