Retail and logistics have both come a long way since 2008. Back then, omnichannel wasn’t even a word and Woolworths, Comet and BHS were high-street staples. If there’s one lesson to learn, it’s that retail never stands still, and there’s no room for complacency in this game. So it really is the case that fortune favours the brave, and that’s a sentiment that has stuck with Steve Parkin, Executive Chairman and founder of Clipper Logistics plc, since day 1. In the second in the series of three, Propaganda Chairman Julian Kynaston talks business with one of the country’s leading entrepreneurs.
The Clipper / Propaganda relationship first set sail in 2008. Back then, the logistics market was blighted by a diesel-stained reputation for trucks and sheds, hardly a synergy with the catwalks of Milan, or the glitz of Oxford Street associated with retail. But that’s not how Clipper saw things. And that’s a fact validated during our first Discovery for Clipper that same year.
Steve recalls a recent round of media interviews, where one business journalist commented, having seen the Clipper branding, ‘This is no ordinary logistics business’. And that’s one thing that sets Clipper apart. Bringing a consultative approach to retail logistics is something the business prides itself on. Sitting in perfect harmony with this strategic offer is the brand. “If an investor looks at your image, and it doesn’t look right, they’ll think ‘the brand is fucked’”. That’s not an accusation that could ever be levelled at Clipper, looking the part and producing the goods. Steve recalls the reception of the businesses first ever Annual Report and Accounts after their hugely successful floatation on the stock exchange. “We were told that our annual report looked more like those of some of the best companies in the FTSE 100. That was great feedback to get.”
Since floatation in 2014, the business has gone from strength to strength, with the share price currently at a record high. And a number of the brand initiatives Propaganda conceived and executed over this time have helped immeasurably, according to Steve. “Boomerang is simple but brilliant.” Says Steve. “You wouldn’t believe the amount of people that comment on that.” Boomerang was one of the first campaigns launched following Clipper’s new plc status, positioning them as the UK and European leader in retail returns. Success has been such, that when retail journalists want to talk retail returns, they now turn to Clipper.
According to Steve, floatation was again about taking “bold decisions”. “We had the chance to sell the year before, but it wasn’t the right decision. It undervalued what we did, a fact that has been proved since.” And such ‘bold decisions’ are not something Steve wants to shy away from at this critical time for Clipper. “You’ve got to be bold” Steve says defiantly. “But that’s what we do well. We think completely outside of the normal thought processes.” Clipper has overseen the professionalisation of logistics, and Propaganda has been on hand to guide their direction, every step of the way.