Xpediator has defied the Covid-19 pandemic to deliver an 18% rise in pre-tax profits this year, according to the company’s latest trading update.

The 3PL, which recently bought UK international groupage freight forwarder Nidd Transport, said it expects to report £6m in pre-tax profits for the year to 31 December 2020, up 18% from £5.2m last year.

Despite seeing a sharp drop in volumes at the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak the company said trading has continued to recover to “historic” levels since the half year, helped by additional income from new markets.

The group’s freight forwarding division put in the strongest performance, with 2020 revenues set to exceed 2019 by around £10m (2019: £159.6m).

The group's transport solutions arm had a rockier ride this year. The division, which provides fuel and toll cards to European hauliers under the Affinity brand, saw April’s revenues fall 40% year-on-year, which the company said was due to the pandemic lockdown. However, by October these had recovered, lying just 6.5% below the previous October’s revenues.

The trading update added that revenues for the division are now expected to be around £5m compared to £6.2m in 2019.

Revenue from the group's logistics and warehousing division is expected to be flat year-on-year at approximately £48m, largely due to lower activity among retailing clients, the company said, adding that the second half has been much stronger.

The logistics division also owns and manages warehousing in Romania and runs the pallet distribution network in the country under the Pall-Ex brand. The 3PL said these elements of the business had performed well throughout the year and had recovered from the initial impact of the pandemic.

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Xpediator’s acquisition of Nidd Transport (pictured) on 6 October is also making headway, the 3PL reported, with the integration of the business underway and performance “slightly ahead” of management expectations.

Preparations for a potential hard Brexit are in hand, the company said, with a new customs brokerage team set up to handle the expected increase in declarations.

The group added that if there is a change in border controls this could deliver higher revenues generated by an increased workload.

Looking ahead the company said that the outlook for 2021 remains strong – despite the prospect of ongoing disruption from the impact of the pandemic.

It added that the benefit of £0.5m cost reductions over the year, combined with current trading patterns, additional income from Nidd and a healthy balance sheet left the group confident of the future.

Commenting on the trading performance, chief executive Robert Ross said, "For Xpediator 2020 has demonstrated the strength of being a diversified business.

“While the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in less traffic and therefore reduced use of our fuel cards, demand has increased for our freight forwarding and warehouse and logistics services, and we have also delivered on cost saving initiatives.

“The net result is expected to deliver an 18% increase in annual adjusted profit before tax and annual cost savings of £0.5 million. This, combined with our fuel card business returning to normal, means we are moving forward into 2021 with confidence."