Worcestershire-based farming and rural supplies business Countrywide has posted record figures with strong growth across its retail, agricultural and energy businesses.
The firm, formed out of the merger of Midland Shires Farmers and WMF, said overall turnover was up by 18 per cent to £190 million for the year to 31st May, with group operating profit increasing to £1.8 million from £0.3 million in 2007.
Countrywide managing director John Hardman said: “The last 12 months have proved a major turning point for the business.
“Our performance has been achieved across all our businesses despite volatile market conditions. This has required strong and decisive management.
“After our record results in 2008, we are well placed to continue to improve our performance again in 2009.
“While recognising the current challenging economic conditions, we are confident we are pursuing the right strategy for the future growth and long term prosperity of the business.”
Countrywide’s agriculture business, which supplies a range of feed and arable products to farmers, posted a sales increase of 10.6 per cent to around £79 million.
The firm said sales were driven by rising feed and fertiliser prices and growth in sales of blends and straights, with an operating profit of £0.6 million helped by an especially strong performance from the seed business.
Countrywide said its retail arm, the firm’s most profitable business, put in an exceptionally strong performance in contrast with others in the retail sector who have had a tough year.
The division, which supplies products for farmers, smallholders, gardeners and rural businesses, saw total sales of £65 million for the year, with like-for-like sales up 10.9 per cent.
Countrywide’s retail division opened five new stores during the period, bringing its overall estate to 45 outlets.
The firm said its energy division, which supplies fuel and gas to farming and rural communities, also made a significant contribution to performance, recording a 21 per cent increase in fuel volumes and an 11 per cent increase in LP Gas volumes on last year’s figures.
Countrywide recently acquired fuel distributors Cotswold Fuels, which the firm said was the first transaction in the strategic development of one of its core product areas.
Cotswold Fuels, an eight million litre business based at Moreton-in-Marsh in the Cotswolds, has a strong local presence in North Gloucestershire, West Worcestershire and South Warwickshire and has been marketing kerosene, gas oil and road diesel to local customers for over a decade.
Countrywide also announced the launch of a Shareholder Privilege Card, which entitles shareholders with 500 or more shares to a five per cent discount on purchases in Countrywide’s retail stores.