Mining, energy and property firm Banks Group has boosted pre-tax profits by more than £14m, thanks to strong trading across all of its divisions.
The Durham-based business saw pre-tax profits rise from £6.9m in 2013 to £21.58m in the year ended September 28 as turnover grew by £30.9m to £128.3m.
Group financial director Richard Dunkley said the accounts, filed at Companies House, reflected a strong trading performance across the family-owned firm which employs near to 400 people in the region.
Banks’ Northumberland coal mining operations, at Shotton and Brenkley, and surface mine at Rusha in Scotland, all showed robust performances.
Coal production at Shotton increased to more than one million tonnes from 942,000 tonnes in 2013 while production at Brenkley fell from 411,000 tonnes to 371,000. Production across Banks’ three operational sites totalled 1.7m tonnes during the period.
Within the firm’s property division potential residential plots rose to more than 6,000, up from 5,350 the year before.
Notes accompanying the accounts pointed to improved market conditions for property development, but despite this some £6.8m was provisioned against certain brownfield sites acquired before the 2008 financial downturn.
The Renewables division, which specialises in onshore wind farm developments, started construction on 18 new sites during the year — including the now completed Heysham South.
In March 2015 electricity generation at the Lancashire site started and construction has started at the 10MW wind farm at Hook Moor near Leeds, which is expected to yield power in December.
Banks Renewables also secured planning permission for onshore wind farms during the year with capacity of more than 130MW, which are earmarked for construction over the next five years.
Mr Dunkley said: “Mining production levels reflect very favourably on the quality of both our operational practices and the mining teams that deliver them. Estimated coal reserves as at the end of September 2014 for these three sites were in excess of 4.5m tonnes, which the company expects to mine over the next four years.
“As a family-owned North East business, we are proud that our North East mining operations contribute more than £35m to the regional economy every year through wages, investments and the local supply chain, and with more than 200 of our staff working at our Shotton and Brenkley Lane sites, we are one of Northumberland’s largest private-sector employers.
“Coal remains a central part of the company’s medium/long-term commercial strategy. We have successfully secured extensions to our two North East surface mines, and investigations are ongoing into further possible sites in the region. We have recently publicised plans to develop a surface mine at Highthorn, near Widdrington in Northumberland, which we hope will enable continued employment for the region after mining operations cease at Shotton and Brenkley.
“Prevailing market conditions facing property development continue to improve, and the group continues to invest significantly in new sites where we are confident that the prospects are strong. During the year, the group reached agreement with Durham University for the sale of nine acres at Mount Oswald, to enable the development of additional student accommodation closely located to the university colleges.
“The overall future of the group looks very positive, and our developments and operations will continue in line with our long-standing ‘development with care’ approach which remains at the heart of everything we do.
“As part of providing tangible benefits from our operations to the communities in which we work, we have provided over £3m of investment for community improvement projects through the Banks Community Fund and have established community endowment funds in excess of £1.1m, and we expect to be able to do even more in the coming 12 months.”