The parcel delivery network, which specialises in small and medium-sized business customers, made a pre-tax profit of £6.41 million for 2021-2022 – 30 per cent down on 2020-2021.
The APC, which trades as APC Overnight and has its national base at Kingswood Lakeside, needs warehouse operatives, forklift truck drivers and HGV drivers.
The delivery network mainly attributes the fall in profits for the year to the end of March to a change in post-pandemic consumer buying habits.
The APC, which is the largest independent parcel delivery network in the UK, had achieved record results in 2020-2021 with parcel volumes surging and demand for delivery services at an all time high.
Turnover was down from £134.6m in 2020-2021 to £127.4m.
This year, whilst e-commerce remained elevated compared to pre-pandemic levels, The APC has seen its customers work towards a ‘new normal’ with parcel volumes reducing.
Inflation and rising costs also posed challenges presented themselves during the financial year and affected customer trading and consumer spending. Fuel, energy and labour costs rose and had a significant impact on the network.
To overcome some of the industry-wide turbulence faced across its network, The APC invested significantly to help support its people and depots, and build for future growth. The business implemented an increase in driver and warehouse operative wages, helping to reward and recognise the efforts of its workforce, and also attract and retain drivers during the nationwide HGV driver shortage.
Chief executive Jonathan Smith said: "This year we have been extremely considered about how we can best support our people, depots and customers through such unprecedented times. As a business we’ve absorbed a significant amount of inflationary cost to protect our customers from the ongoing economic turbulence, and our agility as a business has allowed us to re-shape and respond to their needs quickly during times of change.
"We have also continued to invest heavily in our workforce, the heart of our business, to ensure they feel recognised for their important contribution and benefit from the long-term career opportunities available to them.”
The APC responded to the industry-wide issues of recruiting and retaining drivers by implementing its ‘warehouse to wheels’ scheme, to attract and train a new generation of drivers. Since launching the scheme the business has seen unprecedented levels of interest, with 30 per cent under the age of 30, and 12 per cent female, indicating that the scheme is developing a more diverse pool of HGV drivers.
Dervla Gallagher, network director at The APC, said: “As we came out of COVID we entered into a new period of uncertainty, reflected to an extent across our 34,000 customers. Although the world is still changing, we know from experience that local entrepreneurs are very strong and often very resilient, proving their agility and entrepreneurialism in such turbulent times. Across our network we have worked hard to navigate the changing habits of consumers and needs of our customers, and quickly shape our business to ensure we continue to provide a great service to our customers.”
Mr Smith added: “There is no doubt that the outlook remains uncertain. But as a business we remain committed to building for future growth, and the growth of our customers. As we go into 2022-2023 we’re already making plans that allow us to continue investing in our network and our people, and further strengthen our position in the market.
“We’re well placed to navigate the continued evolution of our industry. Demand for APC licences remains high and the passion, pride and entrepreneurialism that comes from our people and network ensures our customers will continue to be served well.”
The APC delivery network, which started in 1994, is owned and run by more than 100 independent local delivery and collection specialists.