WH Bowker International experienced a “very positive” 2021, despite the challenges brought by the Covid 19 pandemic and new Brexit customs procedures, with pre-tax profit more than doubling in the year.

The Hull-based firm, which specialises in European transport services, is part of WH Bowker Limited Group of Companies. The group operates a fleet of around 225 trucks and 450 trailers across ten depots in the UK and has 1.2m sq ft of warehousing. It is also a member of Palletline.

In April this year WH Bowker Limited Group of Companies purchased haulier James Nuttall (Transport) and its commercial MOT testing centre, Queensway Commercials for £9m. James Nuttall (Transport) was renamed as WH Bowker (Rochdale) in June.

According to WH Bowker International’s latest annual results, for the year ending 31 December 2021, the company saw turnover rise 17.5% to £16.5m (2020: £14m) and pre-tax profit jump to £752,000 (2020: £443,000).

The transport of goods drove the largest share of turnover at the company, rising to £15.2m (2020: £12.9m). Turnover from storage and additional services also improved, increasing to £1.4m in the period (2020: £1.2m).

The cost of salaries increased to £1.9m (2020: £1.6m) during the year, whilst the number of drivers fell to 39 in the period, compared to a headcount of 47 in 2020.

The company also received £37,000 in government grants in 2021, down from £88,000 in 2020.

In its strategic report to the results WH Bowker International said the transport, warehousing and distribution business had experienced a “very positive” year in which it had built on “the platform achieved in the previous year”.

It added that demand for its European distribution, transport and storage services remained high and that the business had showed “agility in responding to changing restrictions during the year”.

This year the company said it will look to boost profitability by driving sales, particularly via its new post-Brexit customs clearance service stream, and by controlling costs.

In a statement to MT, WH Bowker said the directors are pleased with the firm’s trading performance.

It continued: “The company continues to invest in its systems and people, and these continue to result in operational efficiencies, as demonstrated by improvements in the company’s profit margins. The directors are pleased that this has continued into the current financial year.”

Director Bill Bowker added: “We are pleased to see the demand has remained strong into the current financial year.”