Parcel delivery and e-fulfilment company Whistl cut its pre-tax losses by almost two thirds in 2021, according to its latest figures.

Annual results to 31 December 2021 reveal a fall in pre-tax losses to £3.2m, from a 2020 loss of £8.6m. Turnover rose 26% in the year to £823.2m, up from £654.3m in 2020.

Whilst the group made an operating profit of £49.5m in 2021, this was reduced by administrative expenses, which rose by £7.1m to £47.8m (2020: £40.7m).

The group reported that this rise was partly driven by the costs of acquiring Clientbase Fulfilment and Relish Agency in the year, and by increased labour costs.

Exceptional costs of £4m were also incurred in 2021 due to start-up losses at Whistl’s new fulfilment centres and depot restructuring costs.

The company reported “substantial” revenue growth for its parcels and international division of £29.9m, up 17.7% to £199.1m, across both its portfolio of tracked and untracked services, which it said was driven by the e-commerce boom.

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Whistl also saw fulfilment revenue continue to grow, rising by £23.7m in the period to £80.36m, a 42% rise which the group said was driven by “rapid organic growth and sustained acceleration of online activity following the Covid-19 restrictions”.

Other highlights last year included the £13.6m expansion of Whistl’s e-fulfilment capacity to over 1.5 million sq ft with the opening of three new fulfilment centres in Lutterworth, Northampton and Plymouth and the replacement of a DSA depot in Bristol.

The group also gained approval as a customs clearance agent from the UK Border Force and HMRC in 2021 to help customers deal with Brexit red tape and launched its Whistle Drive Academy and apprenticeship fund to help tackle the driver shortage crisis.

Nick Wells, Whistle executive chairman, said: “Despite the 2021 economic headwinds of Covid-19, inflation and Brexit we have achieved over £800m in turnover and delivered a record £15.6m in underlying EBITDA, double the previous year.”

He praised staff for getting 570,000sq ft of new sites operational in 2021 and hailed the group for winning "significant” new business, particularly in the public sector as well as “spectacular” growth in e-fulfillment, which he said was mainly from existing customers.

He added that with continued investment in its staff and in operations Whistle “will remain on a profitable trajectory to maintain our position as the largest private logistics company in the UK”.