Stuart Delivery accused of ‘exploiting’ workers - after increasing director’s pay by 1000% in 2020

The CEO of Stuart Delivery was paid more than £2m in 2020 and now the firm is reducing the drop rate for self-employed couriers

App-based delivery firm Stuart Delivery Ltd, which has been hit by strike action over changes to its pay structure for drivers, increased the pay to its director by 1000% in 2020.

Stuart Delivery Ltd paid out £2.2m to a single director, Damien Philippe Francis-Xavier Bon, in 2020, rising from £210,000 the previous year.

Stuart couriers are currently on strike in Sheffield over the new pay structure which they say amounts to a pay cut of around 25%. Stuart Delivery denies the accusation.

No corporation tax paid in 2020

According to company accounts up to December 2020, Stuart Delivery Ltd experienced significant growth between 2019 and 2020, seemingly driven by increased demand during the pandemic.

The firm’s gross profits rose to £40m from £20.5m in 2019.

However, Stuart Delivery Ltd paid no corporation tax in 2020, as accounts show it made an operating loss of more than £7m.

Despite this, the company paid out £2,234,453 to a single director, Damien Bon, in 2020, up from £210,000 the previous year.

Stuart is owned by the DPD group, which reported an increase of more than 80% in profits in 2020, with turnover over £1bn.

Alex Marshall, President, Independent Workers of Great Britain (IWGB), said:Damien Bon has become a pandemic millionaire and now he is slashing pay by 25%.

“These key workers worked tirelessly 10-12 hours a day through the pandemic keeping restaurants afloat and delivering vital supplies to isolating families.”

Referring to the firm’s gross profits according to filings up to 31 December 2020, Marshall said: “Stuart’s profits surged 30% in 2020 off the back of their hard work but instead of being rewarded, these majority-BAME couriers are faced with pay cuts that will push many further into poverty.”

The firm claims the new pay structure will not amount to a pay cut for most drivers in Sheffield.

Strike action

Stuart couriers in Sheffield are currently engaged in what is thought to be the longest gig economy strike in UK history, now into its second week.

As a result of the strike, Stuart delivery partner JustEat has had to shut down deliveries from McDonald’s branches across the city, which the couriers hope will encourage the firm to put pressure on Stuart over the new pay structure.

There have been solidarity strikes in Chesterfield and Sunderland, with more action expected to follow in Blackpool and Huddersfield.

A number of Labour MPs have expressed support for the striking couriers, including Sheffield Hallam MP Olivia Blake and former shadow chancellor John McDonnell.

Responding to a request for comment from our sister title the Sunderland Echo, a Just Eat spokesperson said: "We are keen to maintain an open dialogue on issues that are important to couriers.

"We are working with our third-party delivery partner and are having ongoing discussions with them and couriers on this matter.

Marshall said: “The strike is spreading fast and these couriers are going to keep fighting until they get the pay rise they deserve.”

A Stuart spokesperson said: “The change to our pay model was made to ensure couriers on the Stuart platform will be paid more fairly based on the distance they travel per delivery.

“This is part of our commitment to being the best delivery platform for couriers looking for flexibility and financial stability.

“The new model has been developed to work for all couriers, whether they do shorter deliveries more frequently or fewer, longer trips, and will continue to guarantee pay per hour that is among the highest in the sector.”