CARR'S Milling has reported strong annual sales and profits, with its agriculture and engineering divisions offsetting a weaker performance by its food wing.
The Carlisle company’s revenues rose by 8.2% to £404.1m and pre-tax profits by 30.5% to £13.1m in the year to the end of September, it said yesterday.
An “exceptionally busy period” for the engineering wing, which operates in the UK and Germany, resulted in a 65.2% increase in revenues. Sales from the agriculture side were up by 7.7%.
However, food revenues dipped by 2.6% due to continuing over-capacity in the flour milling industry and volatile wheat costs, which also pushed down profits in that division by 64.9%.
Chief executive Chris Holmes said: “The food market is a very competitive market. We are doing something about it by investing £17m in our new mill in Scotland.
“We are committed to food and we intend to make ourselves more efficient. A new mill is more efficient and produces more flour. Energy-wise, the new equipment is far more efficient and greener; energy is very expensive.”
The mill, being built next to Carr’s existing wheat handling facilities at the Port of Kirkcaldy in Fife, is set to start operating in time for next year’s harvest and will impact on the group’s 2014-15 results.
The weakness in the food division was more than made up by the strong performance by Carr’s engineering businesses, which are servicing contracts worldwide.
The German wing Wälischmiller, which operates in remote handling technology and robotics, is “going from strength to strength”, finance director Ron Wood said. “A good part of the profit is engineering which has come from Wälischmiller,” he said.
“All the sites have been exceptionally busy throughout the whole of the year. We are working at almost full capacity.
“Bendalls has also completed a Sellafield contract worth around £3m to Carr’s.”
Bendalls, based in Carlisle, is also working on vessels for a nuclear water treatment plant in Washington State in the US. The company has also now amalgamated Clive Walton Engineering in Carlisle, which it bought for £800,000 in May.
Chris Holmes said Carr’s is continuing to expand through organic growth and by seeking further acquisitions.
“We are looking to grow the group and agriculture is something we are looking at more than the others,” he said.
“Agriculture had a very strong performance in the United States of America, Europe and the UK, and export sales to New Zealand on the feed block side. We’ve got a plant in New York State that has gone on to full production and that has helped us.
“Our agriculture businesses are likely to be the main source of growth in 2013. The drivers of growth are the demand for Carr’s proprietary products for livestock across all markets as well as the expansion of the retail, machinery franchise, and fuel depot networks in the UK.”