Wincanton has reversed heavy losses and is “back on track” – despite a 9.6% fall in turnover - after a turbulent two years that saw it sell its loss-making European activities and exit a poor performing market in the UK.

For the 12 months ending 31 March Wincanton posted a pre-tax profit of £24.8m, a dramatic turnaround from the £47.4m loss it made a year ago. This was despite a fall in turnover from £1.2bn to £1.08bn.

It had expected to see the £28m fall in turnover however, as last-year’s figures included a contribution from its now closed foodservice business, and business lost after two retail customers brought services back in house.

“Two years ago we told anyone who would listen that we would be profitable,” chief executive Eric Born told, “but we also expected that the market would be better. But we are back on track.”

Its contract logistics division, comprising of construction; FMCG; Retail grocery and general merchandise; and tankers and bulk suffered the most, falling from £1.02bn to £923.2m.

However its specialist businesses division, comprising of containers, records management and Pullman Fleet Services also slipped to £163.6m from £179m a year ago.

Of all the divisions only construction saw a year-on-year gain, up from £97.4m to £106.8m.

Following its departure from Foodservice last year Born said he had no intention of exiting any more sectors, and the focus was now on winning new business and market share from Wincanton’s rivals.

“We are pleased with them, even though in absolute terms, the results were not as good as people would have hoped. At the same time we managed to gain market share even in a construction market that is in a diabolical state,” he said. “All have room to improve, either through the efficiencies of their models or through market share improvements.”

Contract wins and renewals this year include Rolls-Royce – a five year contract for its defence business; a six-year distribution and warehousing business with Tilda Rice; a three-year distribution contract with Cemex, and a five year warehousing and distribution contract with drinks firm Pernod Ricard.

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