Unipart Group, one of Europe’s leading manufacturing, logistics and consulting businesses, has announced its financial results for the year ending 31 December 2018.
Total Group profit before interest and tax and exceptional items increased by 6.6% to £24.3m from £22.8m in 2017 while revenue (including joint ventures and associates) was on plan at £845.4m, from £889.6m in 2017, as a result of the company exiting a small number of non-core activities.
Commenting on the results, Chairman and Group Chief Executive John Neill said the Group has been awarded a number of large new contracts and continues to make significant investments in training employees to develop and use new digital technologies. He said that uncertainty around Brexit continued to be a concern for the company.
"2018 was a tough year for the UK economy in general with slowing growth rates, and particularly difficult trading conditions in the retail and automotive sector as consumer confidence levels declined against the backdrop of Brexit uncertainty", he said.
"Brexit continues to be a serious short, medium and long term concern for our UK businesses. Complex, sophisticated and carefully choreographed supply chains have been developed over decades. The risk to these supply chains cannot be understated in the event of any failure to not only maintain, but improve the free flow of products, services and qualified skilled people across our borders."
During 2018, Unipart grew its business considerably with new contract wins and extensions to existing contracts.
For instance, The Department of Health and Social Care agreed to a five-year contract with Unipart as part of the new NHS Supply Chain. Unipart has taken on around 2,000 more people and an additional seven regional distribution centres providing transport, inventory management, customer service, inbound logistics and community delivery services. This is one of the largest logistics contracts in the UK.
In addition, Unipart won a substantial new five-year aftermarket logistics contract with Volkswagen Group, the world’s largest automotive company. The operation will service more than 900 retailers and trade partners across the UK for the Volkswagen, Audi, SEAT, SKODA, TPS and Volkswagen Commercial brands.
During the year, Unipart worked with Jaguar Land Rover to transition to JLR’s new purpose-built 1.1 million sq. ft. facility in Shanghai. Unipart also designed and implemented processes to handle, store and ship batteries for Jaguar’s first ever electric vehicles.
Unipart extended its contract with telecoms and internet services provider Three to provide logistics, distribution and customer services, further cementing a partnership in place since 2003.
In the Rail sector, a major contract was renewed with Arriva, one of the UK’s leading train operating companies. There were also significant new wins in rail infrastructure contracts with a number of UK customers.
Unipart doubled its presence in Australia through contract extensions and new business wins, most notably the new supply chain contract in Melbourne with Yarra Trams, operator of the world’s largest tram network.
In 2018, Unipart launched a new electric vehicle battery manufacturing facility. Hyperbat is a joint venture with Williams Advanced Engineering. The business is based at an existing Unipart manufacturing site and will deliver its first battery system for the Aston Martin Rapide E. Unipart also won new contracts to produce steel hybrid fuel tanks, lightweight fuel fillers and high-pressure fuel rails.
Celebrating 20 years of operation in 2018, Unipart’s joint venture, Kautex Unipart Limited (KUL), successfully advanced its evolution of the Next Generation Fuel Systems technology and Industry 4.0, investing in new equipment and digital initiatives.
MetLase, a joint venture between Unipart and Rolls Royce, secured a new contract for the world’s largest aerospace manufacturer, Boeing, supplying tooling and fixtures using its 3D design capabilities, high precision laser-cutting technology and patented assembly and joining systems. MetLase has progressively extended its global footprint.
During 2018, a number of digital initiatives were implemented including vision picking for warehouse operations; tablet production tracking and automated testing for manufacturing operations; and a strategic project to simplify and automate transactional processes.
As part of the strategy to raise the digital quotient across the company, there are now many employees applying practical digital skills to solve operational problems. One of many examples is the ‘yard app’ which was developed by a Unipart employee and has delivered a 75% productivity improvement across yard operations for Kimberly-Clark. This is now being developed as a generic tool to be used across other sites.
Unipart’s vision for the Condition Based Supply Chain, which has been developed with Unipart subsidiary Instrumentel, has also been well received by rail customers. The Condition Based Supply Chain provides management of real-time data and information gathered through sophisticated sensors and our IoT platform. This data can be combined with historical demand patterns, defects, warranty and vehicle maintenance schedules to deliver timely, actionable information that can save time and money.
Unipart has a strong commitment to reducing our environmental impact, which is now more important than ever. The Group’s carbon emissions fell by 2% in absolute terms, Unipart’s electricity consumption decreased by 10%, gas consumption decreased by 9%, water consumption went down by 32%, and the company recycled 92% of its waste.
The proliferation of single-use plastic has much wider environmental implications than previously understood. Unipart’s long association with Sky enabled the two companies to work together to remove 115 tonnes of single-use plastic at Unipart’s Nuneaton site. Unipart remains committed to eliminating single-use plastic from its Sky supply chain by 2020.
Unipart Group won safety and environmental management accolades for a number of its sites in the British Safety Council Sword and Globe of Honour awards.
Unipart was one of 61 organisations worldwide that achieved a Sword of Honour, which is awarded to companies that have demonstrated excellence in the management of
health and safety risks at work. This award is recognised as the pinnacle of achievement in the world of health and safety management.
The company now has amassed more than 50 Swords of Honour over eight years.
Unipart was also one of only 17 organisations worldwide to receive a Globe of Honour, which is awarded to companies which have demonstrated excellence in environmental management.
For the first time, MetLase, the joint venture between Unipart and Roll-Royce, achieved the Sword of Honour. MetLase is a precision engineering company that manufactures advanced tooling and fixturing technologies to bring lead times of months down to just days. The award is a significant achievement as it is less than three years since MetLase was launched.