Business Plus

Tuohy Thinks Outside The Box

Having sold his Nightline and Parcel Motel businesses, John Tuohy has returned to the logistics landscape with a new locker service, writes

- Basil Miller

John Tuohy sold courier company Nightline and its parcel locker arm, Parcel Motel, to UPS in 2017 for just short of €30m. When asked how it felt to have €10m in his pocket at the age of 49, Tuohy chuckles ruefully and says, “I wish!”

“It was a heavily leveraged business, so about €15m of the proceeds went on writing down the red ink,” he explains. “I had a 40% share of what was left, and some further paybacks came out of that, not to mention the 30% tax bill. So no, I did not get to trouser €10m – that would have been nice.”

After departing Nightline, Tuohy took two years off, lost some weight, cycled a lot and started learning Spanish. Now he’s back in the parcel lockers business with OohPod, which was incorporat­ed in February 2021. ‘Ooh’ stands for Out Of Home, and Tuohy is convinced that lockers where people can leave or collect parcels or other items have a bright future.

“I’m not in the parcel delivery business anymore,” he says. “OohPod provides infrastruc­ture that anyone can use, whether it’s a courier company or a private individual. We’ve no trucks or vans traversing the country with parcels and packages. We simply provide the drop-off point, the locker cabinet.

“It’s open to all. Any courier company can use the lockers, including my old company Parcel Motel or their competitor­s, whether Parcel Wizard, An Post, or Fastway, though obviously the service would appeal more to couriers that don’t have lockers. That’s the big difference with Parcel Motel – our lockers are not tied to one company.”

Tuohy (54) has put his money where his mouth is. A September 2021 allotment filing for OohPod Ltd discloses €600,000 investment in the venture by the founder. Investment effected by nominee accounts, through a company controlled by Tuohy, garnered an additional €820,000 in that funding round.

OohPod’s largest backer is freight forwarder JMC Vans Trans, which is in for €1.5m. More recently, in August 2022, China logistics wizard Liam Casey invested €150,000 to acquire OohPod shares. OohPod’s team now includes chief operating officer Orla Sheils, former head of Parcel Motel, and chief technology officer Patrick Crean, previously with Bank of Ireland and Channel 4.

For OohPod to catch on, it needs to build out a large network of parcel lockers. To date there are 14, eight in the Republic and six in Northern Ireland. Tuohy has talked of expanding the network to hundreds of sites, inspired by the experience in Estonia, where parcel lockers are part of the landscape. In the Baltic country, which has half the population density of Ireland, c.90% of items purchased online are delivered to a parcel locker. Tuohy says when he sold Nightline, Parcel Motel’s market penetratio­n was c.10% of parcel deliveries.

Another source of inspiratio­n is InPost, the Polish parcel locker company that floated on the Amsterdam stock exchange for a valuation of €9.5bn, and which operates over 20,000 locations on the continent.

One plank of OohPod’s strategy is to cater for online shopping

 ?? ?? John Tuohy has ploughed his own capital into the OohPod venture as well as raising funds from other backers in the logistics industry
John Tuohy has ploughed his own capital into the OohPod venture as well as raising funds from other backers in the logistics industry

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