Whistl bolsters fulfilment offering with Spark acquisition

Richard Stuart-Turner
Thursday, December 6, 2018

Whistl has continued to grow its fulfilment offering by acquiring privately held fulfilment and contact centre company Spark Ecommerce Group.

The Gateshead-based business is recognised for its inbound and outbound customer services and its comprehensive order fulfilment operation. The deal for the 200 staff operation, which has a turnover of £15m, was completed on Tuesday (4 December).

Spark Ecommerce Group comprises Spark Response, which provides contact centre and fulfilment services to major UK brands, and Spark Etail, which acts as an online retailer for ethical products via its Ethical Superstore, Natural Collection, Frank & Faith and Spirit of Nature websites.

Recent Spark clients have included WW (formerly Weight Watchers), FitFlop, Micro Scooters, Shark Ninja and PGA European Tour.

The group is made up of a consortium of investors led by London-based chairman Barry Stiefel and includes Spark directors Peter Slee and Noel Lambert.

Spark Ecommerce Group will be rebranded as Whistl Fulfilment at an as-yet-unspecified future date, following a bedding in period. The acquisition is the second made by Whistl in the fulfilment space, following its purchase of Prism DM in July 2017.

Spark will continue to operate from its current premises, with no changes in staffing, and the existing operations and leadership team will remain in place, with Peter Slee as managing director together with his co-director Noel Lambert.

Whistl chief executive Nick Wells said: “We are looking forward to integrating the Spark Ecommerce Group into the Whistl family as part of our strategy to grow our business in the parcel, fulfilment and international arenas.

“Spark brings to Whistl great people, great brands and a shared philosophy of providing outstanding customer services to our clients.”

Slee added: “We have a great team here at Spark and we have been looking for a partner who can take us to the next level, yet retain our entrepreneurial, customer-focused approach to doing business. I look forward to working with Nick and his team to integrate our company into Whistl Fulfilment.”

Earlier this year Whistl’s fulfilment division revealed plans to expand its Rushden depot and took on a new commercial director to drive business for the growing offering.

Marlow-headquartered Whistl UK, which underwent an MBO in 2015 from PostNL (still a 17.5% shareholder), reported a turnover of £603m in 2017. The business provides mail, parcels, doordrop media and fulfilment services in the UK and internationally, handling 3.8 billion items a year.

Whistl has also recently started to expand Parcelhub, the business it acquired in June, after investing in its first automated parcel sortation machine and taking on a new director of business development.

The company’s Doordrop Media division, meanwhile, launched Leafletdrop, a new self-service digital platform aimed at SMEs, earlier this year.

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