East Anglia: Stobart Group reports ‘robust’ first half results

TRANSPORT logistics group Stobart yesterday reported a “robust” first-half performance despite tough market conditions.

The group, best known for its Eddie Stobart road transport business, posted a pre-tax profit of �14.7million for the six months to August 31, slightly down from �15.4m for the same period last year, on revenue of �281.1m, up 15.3% from �243.7million last time.

Stobart also has interests in rail freight, which includes a recently launched trial service between its terminal at Daventry and the Port of Felixstowe, in partnership with Direct Rail Services, and air transport, including the newly expanded London Southend Airport from which easyJet is to start operating next April, as well as port, property and biomass activities.

“We have delivered a robust performance across the group despite a tough market for transport,” said Stobart chief executive Andrew Tinkler. “The weak economy, however, has held back our rate of profit growth, particularly in transport and distribution.

“The road transport operations were affected by fluctuating customer demand during the summer but we have substantially improved our operational information systems allowing us to manage this volatility much better and achieve cost savings.”

The estates division had a number of potential property deals in the pipeline and the biomass business was expanding quickly as a result of demand from the UK and overseas.

“We have made great progress at London Southend Airport,” said Mr Tinkler. “The work is on target and we anticipate passenger numbers to grow strongly once easyJet flights begin next spring.”

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And he added: “As a result of the action we have taken in transport and distribution we expect to report further progress in the second half.”