Logistics giant Wincanton has enjoyed a strong year and consolidated its position as a European market leader, according to the group's top executive.
The supply chain management specialist yesterday reported a 14.4 per cent increase in underlying full year pretax profits, boosting its dividend payout by eight per cent.
It said its new business development teams were "very active" in the new financial year.
Among the successes in the UK was the expansion of business with B&Q, including a new warehouse operation in Coventry and the awarding, by Focus, of a "seasonal goods warehouse", adding to the existing warehouse in Tamworth, the company said.
It also highlighted the successful start of a warehouse operation in Daventry to manage Tesco non- food activities.
Wincanton has Midland sites including operations in Aldridge, Nechells, Witton, Worcester and Wolverhampton and two each in Darlaston, Coleshill, and Coventry.
Despite the upbeat report, the group warned that an ongoing dispute between PGN Logistics - a company it jointly owns with a private Italian company - and its sole customer, Fiat Group's Case New Holland, "puts pressure" on its ability to make operating profit progress in the year to end-March 2006.
In February, Case New Holland repudiated a contract, worth some £1.8 million a year, and the matter is now going to binding arbitration.
Wincanton designs, implements and operates solutions for supply chains across Europe.
Customers includeinclude operators in pharmaceuticals, automotive industries, petrochemicals, general merchandise and supermarkets.
For the year to March 31 the group, made a profit before tax, pension credit, exceptional items and goodwill amortisation of £35 million, up from £30.6 million last time, on turnover up 2.7 per cent to £1.73 billion.
The pension credit was £4 million, exceptional costs were a £1.8 million and goodwill amortisation was £2 million.
Pretax profit was £35.2 million, up from £22.4 million.
The group said it achieved a sound performance on both new and existing contracts with £250 million of wins and renewals in the year.
It also confirmed that the group further reduced its net debt to £53 million.