Bibby Line Group returns to profitability in 2021

Established as a shipping company in Liverpool in 1807, Bibby Line Group is now a diversified international business turning over more than £800m and says it is returning to profitability. Tony McDonough reports

Commercial district
Walker House, Exchange Flags, Liverpool, home to Bibby Line Group. Picture by Tony McDonough


Bibby Line Group (BLG) says it has returned to profitability in the first half of 2021 as it reports narrowing losses for the full year in 2020.

One of Liverpool’s oldest businesses, BLG is reporting pre-tax losses of £26.6m for the year to December 31, 2020, an improvement on the £29.7m loss in 2019. It says its accounts show a pre-exceptional operating loss of £6.4m for 2020. This is a significant improvement on the £24.7m recorded in the previous year.

Established as a shipping company in Liverpool in 1807, BLG is now a diverse business, operating in 16 countries. The group employs 4,000 people in retail, financial services, distribution, marine and construction equipment hire.

Late in 2019 it sold its 57,000 sq ft former headquarters in Liverpool’s Duke Street for an undisclosed sum. It moved its 150 local employees to Walker House, Exchange Flags, in the city’s commercial district.

BLG has yet to publish its full accounts. According to Companies House they are due to be filed by September 30 this year. It’s turnover for 2020 was £833m, broadly similar to 2019’s revenue figure of £835m.

Last year, chairman Sir Michael Bibby described the results for 2019 as “poor” and this year the company says it has enjoyed an improved trading performance despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

2020 saw the group conclude a strategic realignment of its portfolio with the sale of Bibby Distribution and 1,500-strong convenience store chain Costcutter. The latter secured regulatory approval in February 2021.

The business also introduced a new management team during the period with Jonathan Lewis being promoted to group managing director and Sir Michael Bibby becoming group chairman.

Jonathan Lewis, BLG managing director said: “Actions taken over the last two years, including the strategic realignment of the portfolio and the hard work put in by colleagues across the group have allowed us to continue providing excellent customer service and trade successfully through the pandemic.

“The group is now in a much improved and stabilised position and is trading profitably.  Already we are seeing the benefits of that work, particularly in leading invoice and asset finance provider Bibby Financial Services, which has recently seen global client turnover grow by almost a third year-on-year.

“Garic, a long time leader in delivering environmentally friendly welfare solutions, is now focusing even further on sustainability to maintain its edge. Plus our marine business is emerging as a leader within the low and zero carbon maritime space.

“With an improved business outlook and strong liquidity, and committed colleagues throughout the business, the strategic changes we have made have left the group well placed for future growth and profitability.”

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