Xpediator PLC

Xpediator happy to be the middle man

Xpediator Group is especially strong in eastern and central Europe

container ship
Whether Britain is in the EU or not countries will continue trading with each other

A lot of companies have expressed concern about Brexit, but not freight management specialist, Xpediator Plc (LON:XPD)

“The UK is leaving Europe, we are not,” says Stephen Blyth, the company’s founder and chief executive.

“We are listed in the UK,” he adds “but two-thirds of our business conducted overseas.”

And whether Britain is in the EU or not, countries will continue trading with each other and people will still be sending goods from Romania and Lithuania to Germany, Spain, he adds.

WATCH: Xpediator Plc continuing to seek acquisitions with all three divisions growing well

Xpediator Group is especially strong in eastern and central Europe and from its UK base has been posting impressive numbers.

Most recently, half year sales rose by 61% to £79mln, profit before tax increased threefold to £2.2mln and the interim dividend was up by 21%.

Blyth sees little reason why more of the same cannot be delivered going forward.

Indeed, he is already aiming to become a top 25 global freight forwarder.

That’s a big step forward from the current value of £87mln at 65p, but Blyth believes its well within the Xpediator team grasp.

Xpediator joined AIM last year at 24p and comprised Delamode, a freight forwarding operation set up and run by Blyth for thirty years which is now the Group’s largest division.

The second division Logistics and Warehousing with over 80,000 sqm of warehousing and a fast-growing pallet network franchise called Pall-Ex Romania is doing well.

Blyth says volumes last month alone in Pall-Ex Romania exceeded the whole of its first year in business in 2012.

Pallet exchanges function by dividing a country or area among the members of the networks.

Members take freight they want delivered to the central exchange where it is picked up and delivered on the return trip by the firm responsible for the area the goods are going to.

Blyth says it is a very efficient way of getting palletised goods delivered when it is not worth the trip for a full lorry.

“We are a clearing house for the members,” he says.

Being the middle man is in the DNA of Xpediator Group, he quips.

Freight forwarding, for example, is a brokerage arrangement where Xpediator arranges transportation for goods from its network of offices in Europe and agents around the world.

Again, on each deal the company tries to make a margin.

Xpediator’s third division, Affinity Transport Solutions division sees the group use the purchasing power derived from a network of 1,700 hauliers operating over 12,700 trucks to buy items such as fuel cards, insurance, leasing and ferry transit.

Unlike transport companies, Xpediator’s is an asset-light model and has developed a network of partners that it uses when it requires trucks for full or part loads and groupage services.

The biggest problem is filling the truck, says Blyth.

“The most expensive thing a freight forwarder moves is air.

“You can’t make money moving air – you have to fill it [the truck].”

It was that idea that sparked another fast growing division – EshopWedrop.

Blyth describes it as an online delivery business connecting straight to consumers across borders, overlaying a B2C business over its B2B freight forwarding network.

Consumers can take advantage of empty space in trucks to ship things bought (say) in the UK to Lithuania or vice versa.

Goods are shipped to hubs in the country of origin to be transported using Delamode's freight forwarding infrastructure to a hub in the destination country.

A local courier carries out the "final mile" delivery.

Primarily based in Europe currently, Blyth sees plenty of scope to expand EshopWedrop’s activities.

Franchising discussions are ongoing, with one such agreement having just been awarded in Greece.

Acquisitions are another part of the mix.

Two this year, Southampton-based Import Services Limited and Anglia Forwarding with its Heathrow facility, further increased the presence in shipping and air freight respectively.

Import Services Limited was much the larger of the two and will cost up to £12mln.

It came with revenues of £22mln and profits of £1.8mln in 2017.

Blyth is focused on making Xpediator a top 25 of global freight forwarders and he has the incentive to get there. As his family still owns 26% of the business and seemingly not even Brexit is going to get in the way.

When Xpediator makes money it likes to pay it out to shareholders , with the third dividend to be paid since listing.


Quick facts: Xpediator PLC

Price: £0.30

Market: AIM
Market Cap: £40.12 m

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