AIT Worldwide Logistics is strengthening its position in the UK market with the acquisition of Panther Logistics, a next-day delivery specialist.

AIT already has a “significant presence” in the US white-glove home delivery market and e-fulfilment.

Panther, which recorded profits of £4m ($5.3m) after tax, on turnover of £58m last year, said the acquisition would allow it to invest in its operations and develop new services.

The management will largely remain, with commercial director Gary McKelvey becoming managing director.

“Becoming part of AIT’s expansive global network provides a springboard for further growth and investment,” he said.

“With the growth in online shopping continuing at unprecedented levels, quality of delivery has become a key differentiator for many retailers and a major driver for consumers. Customer experience is therefore vital. Everything we do is designed with the end customer in mind and we aim to make delivery as easy and convenient as possible.”

AIT president and CEO Vaughn Moore said: “I am thrilled to add Panther’s renowned two-man delivery professionals to our growing organisation and wish them all a warm welcome to the team.

“I’m looking forward to the results of blending subject matter experts between our two companies and building off each other’s best practices, particularly in the booming e-commerce space.”   

Panther’s company accounts for 2019, filed in August this year, noted that Covid-19 had not had a huge negative impact – “the business has been resilient from the economic affects as retail has accelerated to online”, it said.

“The operational and organisational changes that were implemented have demonstrated a robust business model in dealing [with] the pandemic and subsequent lockdown periods.”

While turnover fell from £62m in 2018, profit after tax rose from £228,853 to £4m.

This week, Panther, which also offers warehousing, announced it had extended its contract with mattress maker Silentnight for a further three years.

There is expected to be an increase in M&A activity in logistics next year. Nearly 40% of respondents to a logistics survey said they were likely to make an acquisition in the next 12 months, in a bid to extend services or target new industries or customers.

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