Uniserve imports export firm to create £255m distributor

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The Independent Online

A distribution supplier to well-known high-street chains, including Marks & Spencer, Monsoon and Debenhams, has created a business with a joint turnover of around £255m by buying a 50 per cent stake in a Birmingham-based export business.

Uniserve, a privately run sea- and air-freight business, has bought a 50 per cent stake in export specialist Metro Shipping. Uniserve has 25 years' experience in importing goods into the UK to high-street retailers, with a turnover of around £180m a year, while Metro, which has 30 years' experience of export, has a £75m turnover.

The tie up allows the two to become one of the biggest sea-freight importers and exporters in the UK. The move means the companies can match import and export container movements, becoming more efficient.

Iain Liddell, the managing director of Uniserve, said: "Normally, you either specialise in imports or you specialise in exports, but bringing two companies together makes a powerful proposition. We expect our position in the market to grow as we will have a bigger influence with shipping companies now we can export and import."

Uniserve is planning to buy more firms as part of its expansion. It already runs several related businesses, including a recycling company.