APC records profit growth

Parcels business APC has announced record results for its latest financial year, with pre-tax profits more than doubling.

The Cannock-based firm reported a 53 per cent increase in profits to £9.2 million for the year to the end of March.

According to APC, the effects of the pandemic were seen early in the financial year, with home deliveries becoming more popular than deliveries to businesses for its 35,000 customers.

As a result of the e-commerce boom, APC saw significant growth across all services, especially within its niche services of fragile and liquid, with the food and drink sector forming the largest sector of growth in the year.

Jonathan Smith, chief executive at APC, said: “Throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen growing demand for parcel services, driven by a surge in consumer e-commerce activity and the preference for home delivery. But perhaps most impressively, in response to this shift in purchasing habits, we’ve seen so many of our SME customers quickly adapt, proving their resilience and entrepreneurialism, and thriving as a result. It’s this resilience of the SME community that has largely contributed to the growth we’ve seen across our network.

“We’ve worked tirelessly to support our 35,000 customers, recognising their changing needs and investing in our business to support this evolution. The pandemic has fundamentally changed the shape of distribution, and in fact, the whole dynamic of the industry; how people are shopping, how people need deliveries and their delivery expectations. It has required a structural shift in our business and will continue to shape our priorities in the coming months."

He added: “What I am most pleased about is we kept everyone safe and helped the SME base recreate itself and strengthen a bit.

"The business probably grew about 20 to 40 per cent during the pandemic last year. We're currently about half of that. About half of Covid-related trading volume has stuck.

"It used to be half to home and half to business, I would say it is now about 70 per cent to home. Of course for many people their home is now their workplace.

"The Covid safety measures we put in last year – the masks, distancing and cleaning – we haven't relaxed them at all.

"Our customers are probably concerned about a supply of materials, but we haven't seen that bite yet. I am confident we can serve our customers.

"We are also concerned about labour. At this time of year we employ temporary workers, but right now I would like to offer about another 100 full-time jobs.

"We've not had any problem getting temporary staff. It's ok getting temporary and agency staff, but we like people to be employed by us.

"We've substantially changed our reward for people – driver's wages have gone up and we're having to enhance our offering for people who work in our sortation centres.

"We invested about £1 million last year in new equipment and moving things around, primarily at our Essington site, but I expect us to invest around the same amount at both sites (Essington and Cannock) in the coming months as well.

"We're looking to move our London depot to a new site in the new year. During Covid London actually became a bigger part of our deliveries.

"We have also invested in a programme to upskill our people and looking to be creative as we can be to train drivers."

In response to growing demand across its network, APC made significant investment to support delivery operations and increase capacity at its secondary hub, including sortation equipment and additional handheld devices. The business also invested in its service offerings, to meet the shift toward the business to consumer market, introducing Saturday as a full delivery day option.

Anticipating the continued demand for delivery services, APC has also planned for further investments in both its hub operations and the London delivery region.

In addition to the investments in its business operations, APC also committed to further investment in its workforce. At the start of the financial year, the business concluded its shared ownership structure, allowing all depots within The APC network to take a shareholding. The company also introduced a share option scheme, which rewards all long-standing employees with over 10 years’ service.

Corina Forman, HR director at APC, said: “This year has understandably proved challenging for many. Throughout this time we’ve worked hard to maintain job security and opportunities for all our employees, continuing to provide them with the training and skills they need to fulfil their potential. But we also understand the importance of focusing on, and providing staff with, initiatives that support their health and well-being.

“We firmly believe that investing in our people this way pays dividends in the long-term. People who feel supported and recognized within the company tend to identify strongly with our values and they develop secure social networks – these factors combine to support great service delivery.”

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