Bury St Edmunds-based logistics group Norish reports increased annual sales and profits

Warehousing and logistics group Norish has reported increased sales and profits

Warehousing and logistics group Norish has reported increased sales and profits

Fresh produce specialist Norish has lifted its forecast after a strong start to the year for its temperature controlled storage and commodity trading operations.

The group, which has six facilities around England and Wales, including Bury St Edmunds – where it also has its head office – and Braintree, saw total turnover grow by 29.9% in the year to December 31, to £32.1m from £25.1 in 2015.

Norish specialises in handling meat, fish, dairy produce and vegetables, with its services including cold storage, blast freezing, imports, exports, bonded storage and order picking.

Revenues growth was largely driven by a 46.6% increase in revenue from commodity trading to £19.5m, mainly relating to its Townview Foods operation, with revenue from its temperature controlled business rising by 6.8% to £12.6m, largely due to increased blast freezing volumes

Operating profit increased by 3.6%, to £870,000 from £840,000 the previous year and profit before tax from continuing operations – excluding ambient temperature and fast moving consumer goods businesses which the group exited during 2016 – was 13% higher, at £633,000.

The group said its south-east storage division, which includes Bury St Edmunds, Braintree and a site in Gillingham, Kent, had performed below last year’s level, mainly due to a refurbishment programme at Bury which was completed in December.

The north-west division, which includes sites in Wrexham and Birmingham, performed well, helped by a buoyant market in China which is the UK’s biggest export market for pig meat.

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And the commodity trading division, which consists of Townview Foods and Foro International Connections, also increased its overall contribution, with Foro’s performance unchanged.

The group said that, following a fundraising in December 2015, it has invested £1.7m last year, including £800,000 in the temperature controlled division and £600,000 in dairy infrastructure, plus £300,000 in the herd for its dairy farm in Kilkenny, Ireland.

Norish chairman Ted O’Neill said: “2016 was a year of considerable progress for the group. Commercial decisions made in previous years, combined with a new, focused, management approach and a strengthening of the group’s balance sheet, has ensured that Norish is now in a position to develop its business in ways that were previously unavailable to the group.

“We have been very encouraged by the excellent start made in the first two months of 2017 by our two main trading divisions.”

Norish added that it had seen an “excellent” start to 2017, and increased its guidance for earnings per share this year to a range of 2.75p to 3p.