Fowler Welch sales rise but pre-tax profit dips

Spalding, UK: Revenue at Fowler Welch jumped 3% to £168.6m (2017: £163.5m) for the year ending 31 March 2018 but pre-tax profit dropped by £100,000 to £4.4m, parent company Dart Group has revealed.

Philip Meeson, chairman, Dart Group, said the fall was because “additional operational support was provided to a key customer over the Christmas period, while varying retailer demand and shorter production runs led to cost pressures at our fruit ripening and packing joint venture, Integrated Service Solutions”.

The 3% increase in sales was put down to the full-year effect of the Dairy Crest operation at Nuneaton, along with growth at Fowler Welch’ Teynham, Washington and Heywood sites, although the Spalding operation experienced “lower revenue”.

Revenue fell by 3.5% at Spalding “primarily a result of the planned movement of volume to other company sites”.
Revenue from the company’s Kent operations at Teynham and Paddock Wood distribution centres increased by nearly 7%, primarily due to a new contract for the distribution of salads. The Hilsea depot, which is located near to Portsmouth International Port, warehouses, consolidates and distributes supplies of salads, herbs and vegetables to UK retailers. The business increased operating profit from slightly reduced revenues, as it delivered operating efficiency improvements.

The regional distribution operations at Washington in Tyne and Wear and Newton Abbot, near Exeter in Devon, provide direct store delivery services on behalf of leading retailers to over 100 stores every day. Both improved their operating profit performance year- on- year, as they reacted swiftly to handle additional volume following the failure of a major UK wholesaler.

The operation at Nuneaton, near Coventry, significantly improved its operating profit performance, due to a full year of trading (the operation having commenced in June 2016), the planned transfer of incremental volume from Spalding to allow upgrades to that depot, plus new customer wins as the operation progressively expands.

Several projects were highlighted in the financial report, including the roll out of a fleet of lithium ion warehouse handling equipment to improve operating efficiency and a further 4.1% improvement in vehicle miles per gallon, a result of continued focus on driver training.

Meeson said: “Fowler Welch continues to focus on growing its revenue pipeline and developing existing and new business opportunities.”

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