Swedish garden equipment manufacturer Husqvarna, which operates a Newton Aycliffe factory, has reported a £3.8m rise in profits while decreasing the number of staff it employs on a monthly basis.
The firm’s accounts for the year to December 31, 2013 show profit on ordinary activities before tax rose from £5.05m in 2012 to £8.8m.
Husqvarna, which manufactures the Flymo brand, said market conditions in 2013 were “slightly better” than the previous year, despite the first half being negatively impacted by a late spring and “generally unfavourable” weather - a headwind to the firm’s seasonal business.
In 2013 Husqvarna moved much of its R&D activities to sites in Germany and Sweden as part of drive to streamline operations. The firm incurred one-off costs of £1.62m as a result of the restructuring.
This set of results showed the firm had dropped its average number of monthly employees and directors on service contracts from 550 in 2012 to 298.
A breakdown showed the average number of monthly management jobs fell by 10 and the average monthly number of production staff fell by 242.
Within the annual report, company director Clive Middlebrook outlined the restructuring process.
He said: “During 2013 Husqvarna Group embarked on a restructuring plan to relocate research & development activities from the UK to mainland Europe.
“The Company recognised an exceptional expense of £1,62m in 2012 in respect of the restructuring program.
“A limited R&D team have been retained in the UK, and the Group continue to invest heavily in user-focused product development.”
Summing up the year Mr Middlebrook added: “Whilst the UK economy has improved during 2013, the commercial environment in which the company operates remains highly competitive.
“In the coming year we will aim to grow our sales to both external and group customers. We Will continue to develop our relationships with existing customers and to generate new business where possible.
“The directors remain confident that income and profitability will be satisfactory and the company will be able to meet its capital requirements.”
Turnover at the firm rose to £135m to £138m during the year while cost of sales increased from £108.8m to £111.5m.
Stockholm-headquartered Husqvarna Group is one of the world’s largest producers of outdoor power products including robotic mowers, garden tractors, chainsaws and trimmers.
The group sells its products through a network of UK dealers and retailers to both consumers and professional users.