Parcels growth means “strong” quarter for bpost
Double-digit growth in domestic parcel volumes has helped sustain a “strong” third quarter for Belgium’s bpost in the face of continuing mail volume declines. The company majority-owned by the Belgian state recorded revenues of EUR 569.2m in the quarter, up by half a percent on last year’s third quarter, which was elevated by property sales.
bpost said its group net profit for the quarter was EUR 46.6m, up 3.9% on last year.
The quarter’s results mean that in the year to date, bpost has made a revenue of EUR 1.8bn, up 1.2% on the same period in 2013, with group net profit up 24.3% to EUR 218.1m.
During the third quarter e-commerce drove domestic parcel volumes up 10.3% year-on-year, twice the growth rate seen in the first half. bpost said there were signs of recovery in consumer-to-consumer parcel volumes, and some one-off boosts.
International parcel activity also grew “solidly”, the company said. Volumes were up 47.9% year-on-year in the third quarter.
A EUR 7.2m drop in operating costs, including a reduction of 840 full-time staff as planned, also helped profitability.
bpost said its domestic mail volume decline of 4.3% year-on-year in the third quarter was down on the decline seen in the first half (4.9%). It means the year as a whole has suffered a 4.6% decline, but bpost is continuing to forecast a 5% decline for the full 12 months.
Koen Van Gerven, the bpost chief executive, said he was pleased with the parcels performance and the “strong” results in the third quarter.
He said the results were helped by the softer volume decline in mail, but added that the company was not pinning its hopes on a longer-term improvement in the mail industry trend.
“We remain cautious as the underlying trends of e-substitution and weak sales in advertising mail remain unchanged,” he said. “We therefore continue to prepare ourselves to react if more adverse conditions would happen.”
Van Gerven said the third quarter saw the launch of new initiatives designed to boost the parcels business, including the launch of parcel lockers and a grocery delivery service.
“I’m convinced that these initiatives will strengthen our leadership in the last mile delivery,” he said.