Isleham: From loss to profit at Produce World

William Burgess

William Burgess - Credit: ECN - Archant

Produce World has announced operating profits of £4.5million for the year to end of June 2012.

The group, which operates across East Anglia and has a base at Isleham, near Mildenhall, managed a turnaround of £14.1million from losses in 2010/11. It also reduced its bank debt from £20.6m to £6.5m.

Chief executive William Burgess said: “Last year we had to announce a poor set of results for Produce World, but we had already begun the process of improving performance across all our business units. The £14m turnaround represents an excellent achievement, but we will not be resting on our laurels.”

“Continuous improvement is now very much part of the company’s DNA, and to that we have added even greater customer focus.

“New recruits to our commercial team have provided an increasing degree of consumer insight, and this will allow us to consolidate our status as the leading player in the fresh vegetable sector.”

During this period (2011/12) Produce World decided to sell its holding in Spanish brassica producer Agromark. As a result the company incurred a paper loss of around £5m. However, Mr Burgess said that this was in the long-term best interests of Produce World.

“Selling Agromark back to its founders was a strategic decision which has enabled the management team to concentrate on the core UK business.

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“It has helped to reduce our debts at the bank, while removing the exposure of the group to risk, overheads and working capital demands of that business. However, Produce World is still trading with Agromark and providing its customers with high quality brassicas during the winter period.”

The figures for 2011/12 also included additional non-recurring costs of £3m which relate to re-structuring the operations, overheads and bank debt.

“The business is now in good health and, despite challenging weather and market conditions, we are on target as far as the 2012/13 financial year is concerned.” said Mr Burgess.

“Everything is pointing in the right direction in terms of our vision of being a financially secure, sustainable, innovative and customer-focused business providing excellent services and produce across the fresh vegetable category.”