Management at the Carlisle-headquartered Carr’s Milling Industries plc says it is encouraged by the group’s performance in the financial year to date, despite a wealth of challenges facing the industry.
According to an interim management statement relating to the 19-week period ended on January 10, 2015, the agriculture, food and engineering company is continuing to trade in line with the board’s expectations for the full year.
In the agriculture division, UK performance was impacted by the mild autumn, the slow start to the winter and a decline in farm incomes related to the fall in the farm gate milk price.
The mild start to the UK winter likewise hit fuel sales during the period. However, the retail business performed well, with sales ahead of the same period last year.
Sales volumes of animal feed in the UK were comparable to 2013/14, while the cold weather in the north of the USA, coupled with an increase in market share, has resulted in an overall increase in worldwide feed block sales volumes for the period.
Investment was ongoing in the company’s facilities, with a growing number of retail County Stores.
In the food division, trading was ahead of last year’s performance and in line with expectations,
Although flour sales volumes were up, however, the resulting revenue was lower due to a drop in wheat prices.
Carr’s Milling’s engineering companies, meanwhile, traded as expected, with MSM enjoying a strong start to the year, having won a significant contract in Sellafield.
Bendalls, likewise, continued to work to near capacity, while, in December 2014, Walischmiller completed a major contract requiring innovative design and remote handling capabilities for a complex decommissioning project at a nuclear plant in France. Looking to the future, Carr’s Milling predicted activity would increase in that sector within the UK, while the failing oil price could cause a reduction in work within that industry.
Chirton Engineering, the group’s precision machining business, meanwhile, was developing synergies with the other engineering businesses. A relocation to new premises in the spring would provide it with an enhanced production facility, increased capacity and an improved working environment.
Overall, Carr’s Milling’s financial position remained strong, with net debt at November 29, 2014, standing at £30.4m. This compares to £24.6m on August 30, 2014, and £28.2m the previous year.
Chief executive Tim Davies said: “We are encouraged by Carr’s performance to date in the current financial year.
“Whilst the sectors in which Carr’s operates are experiencing challenging times due to a variety of external factors, the group’s geographical spread, investment in assets and ongoing commitment to innovation continue to support the group’s development.
“We remain confident in the long-term success of the group and the board’s expectations for the full year remain unchanged.”
The company expects to issue its interim results for the 26 week period to February 28 2015 on April 13.