Annual profits soar at Saffron Walden-based LED lighting and electro-mechanical firm LPA Group

LED lighting delivered by LPA Lighting Systems, part of Saffron Walden-based LPA Group, to the Munic

LED lighting delivered by LPA Lighting Systems, part of Saffron Walden-based LPA Group, to the Munich Metro. Photo copyright SWM/MVG/N+P Industrial Design - Credit: Archant

North Essex LED lighting and electro-mechanical systems manufacturer and distributor LPA Group has reported a five-fold increase in annual operating profits.

The Saffron Walden-based company, which also has operations in Berkshire and West Yorkshire, said sales for the 12 months to September 30 grew by 31.7% compared with the previous year, from £16.27m to £21.42m, helped by a number of significant rail projects with clients including Abellio Greater Anglia.

Operating profits before exceptional items increased by 427%, from £291,000 to £1.533m and the pre-tax figure was 91% higher at £1.516m, against £793,000 a year earlier when the figure befited from a one-off gain on the sale of the company’s former Tudor Works site in Saffron Walden.

LPA said the figures would have been even stronger but for a period of uncertainty following the Brexit vote and a customer in the energy sector going into administration.

Peter Pollock, chief executive, said the results represented “a step change” in the performance of the group.

“Profits would have been even higher but for an oil and gas sector customer being placed into administration after the year-end, and a consequent provision of £124,000 being made against the results for the year,” he said. “The customer’s business was subsequently sold to a third party and trading is expected to resume in due course.”

He added: “After very strong order entry in the first half, the uncertainty of Brexit made customers relatively cautious in placing orders during the period from April to August, since when the high levels of order entry have resumed.

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“Sales and orders in the first quarter are ahead of last year, confirming the continuing growth potential of the business. We look forward to continuing progress this year and for the future.”

Net debt fell to £2.541m at the year-end, from £2.717 at the start, despite increased capital expenditure including £1.05m on a new lighting facility at Normanton in West Yorkshire which is now nearing completion.

The group’s headquaters site in Saffrom Walden is also its “centre of excellence” for electro-mechanical design and manufacture while a facility at Thatcham in Berkshire focuses on aviation, defence and rail work.