Cumbrian agriculture group Carr’s Milling has posted record profits despite seeing sales slip.
The Carlisle-headquartered agriculture, food and engineering giant, which employs 1,200 people made £16.6m before tax in the year ended August 2014, an increase if 7.8% on the previous year, while turnover fell by 8.4% to £429m.
The firm said a mild winter in the UK knocked agricultural revenues, but they were partly offset by the severe weather conditions in the US, particularly in the Upper Mid-West States.
The severe US weather resulted in record sales of feed blocks, while also increasing recognition of the firm’s brands.
Retail sales grew by 2.7%, further endorsing the company’s continued investment programme in its Country Stores across Northern England and Southern Scotland, with enlarged branches at Annan and Brock opening during the year.
The now fully operational flour mill at Kirkcaldy has delivered anticipated benefits to the food division, resulting in the expected increase to the profit before tax for the division.
In April Carr’s Milling acquired North Shields-based Chirton Engineering in a deal worth £2.75m.
The firm became part of Carr’s engineering division, which makes equipment for the nuclear, oil and gas and renewable energy sectors.
Since the acquisition directors said significant investment has been made in the engineering division, particularly with the acquisition of Chirton Engineering, and that the new facility for Wälischmiller at Markdorf, Germany was also completed during the year.
The engineering division met its budgetary targets for the year, despite a lack of nuclear contracts in the UK and escalating economic and political issues worldwide.
Chief executive Tim Davies said: “Our vision is to be recognised as an international business at the forefront of innovation and technology across agriculture, food and engineering. In order to achieve this we have built on the investment made throughout 2013, and over the last 12 months our investment programme has continued across our three divisions. “
The board is proposing a final dividend of 17p, taking the total dividend to 34p, up from 32p in 2012-13.