Airedale increases margins with strong orderbook

Airedale is looking to increase its public sector projects, such as this one at Wellington College in Berkshire.

Bradford-based Airedale Catering Equipment Group is holding steady in terms of business performance, according to its latest released accounts on Companies House.

The group, which comprises Airedale Catering Equipment, South Coast Catering, Airedale Technical Services, Caterform Stainless Steel Fabrications and the Catering Design House, saw a slight (3%) decrease in turnover, from £42m to £40.7m in the 12 months to 31 December 2017, but this was offset with a 5% gross profit margin increase from £23.6m to £24.7m.

Another mitigating factor was rising gross profit itself, from £9.9m to £10.1m, a 2% uptick.

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The service and manufacturing divisions performed in line with expectation and with good improvements on previous years, while headcount grew from 258 employees in 2016 to 280 last year.

However, the EBITDA level was slightly lower as a result of timings within the projects business. And as Airedale took some exceptional/one-off costs into the group profit and loss, relating primarily to both operational and transactional non-core investment activities, both the profit before taxation (PBT) and operating profits were reduced. PBT was down by 99% from £1.6m to £16,000, while operating profit was also cut by 99% from £1.8m to £131,000.

The directors noted in the annual report: “Following a difficult year in certain of its markets, most notably facilities management and casual dining where customers have faced trading challenges, the directors consider that the results for the year and financial position at the end of the year are satisfactory. The group has a strong orderbook and pipeline for 2018.”

While chief executive Rob Bywell told Catering Insight: “Over the past few years Airedale’s management team have consistently demonstrated a focused appetite to invest and improve our service levels to our clients, even in times where market conditions are more challenging. We are confident this is the right approach and underpins our track record in building a sustainable, market leading and values driven business.

“With a number of new clients and new staff choosing to join us recently and with funding in place, we will continue to deploy capital and invest in strategic initiatives, both organic and by acquisition that will enhance our offer in years to come.”

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