Unipart Group, the manufacturing, logistics and consultancy business spun out of the beleaguered car manufacturer British Leyland more than 30 years ago, has reported its strongest financial performance in a decade.
Now one of Britain’s largest privately owned companies having being bought by management and employees in 1987, Unipart posted a pre-tax profit of £16.9m for the year to December 31, 2014.
This was the highest profit since 2005 and reversed the £6.1m loss it made the year before. Group operating profit, including joint ventures, rose 3.8pc to £27.2m. The company, which has about 8,000 staff worldwide, said revenue increased 1pc in real terms to £786.8m, though accounting changes meant it fell from the £1.06bn on a recorded basis.
John Neill, chairman and chief executive, said: “Our turnover, for the most part, comes from the fees from our many clients. In the past, a major client required us to account for sales of products to their customers, so those sales appeared as part of our reported turnover.
“We restructured that arrangement so those sales are now accounted for by our client with them taking the associated credit risk. The turnover reflects that change from sales to fees.” In July last year, Unipart Automotive, a business Unipart group licensed to a private equity group in 2011, went into administration. Unipart has relaunched the business as Unipart Autoparts.
Based in Oxford’s Cowley area, near the Mini plant now owned by BMW, Unipart is divided into three main divisions. As well as supplying parts to the auto industry, the manufacturing unit also refurbishes railway rolling stock and infrastructure and produces radiators.
The company also has logistics business, with customers including Sky which last year extended Unipart’s contract to support its engineers, repairing and delivering set-top boxes.
Unipart’s consultancy business specialises in supply chains, and also teaches “the Unipart Way”, a doctrine which claims to “engage every single employee…and equip them with the skills to become their own consultants, diagnosing problems and creating solutions”.
During the year Unipart said it expanded its international operations, opening a logistics centre in China for local auto group Qoros, and enlarging its relationship with Jaguar Land Rover with a parts centre and IT system in India to support the auto-maker’s operations in the country.