Appearing at number 4 on Catering Insight’s top 10 UK kitchen houses by turnover is the Advance Group.
The Dunstable-based distributor is storming ahead, posting its highest ever turnover of £18.1m in the year ending 31 March 2017. This represents 12% growth from £16.1m in the 12 months prior.
Gross profit also grew, with this year’s £4.5m beating last year’s total of £4.1m. Percentage-wise, this represents 25% of earnings, slightly down from 2016’s 26%. However, increased expenses cut the operating profit from £693,713 in 2016 to £688,361 this year. This means overall net profit also dropped from 4.16% to 3.75%.
Looking at the turnover as a whole, it has remained glued around £16m prior to now, apart from a slight dip in the 2014-2015 financial year to £14.5m. Therefore it was a real milestone to break through the £16m barrier last year.
Chairman Steve Coates cautiously welcomed the latest results, detailing that although sales grew, there was pressure on margins as the weaker Pound affected import prices. But as Advance has just purchased Northamptonshire counterpart, Prestige Catering Equipment, the future looks positive.
Coates himself founded the firm as a microwave sales and service company in 1981, recording just a £68,000 turnover that year. Throughout the early 80s, Advance developed into a fully-fledged distributor when chefs were enquiring about more than just microwaves. Since then, it specialises in big chain kitchen rollouts and maintenance, with clients including the Whitbread group, Mitchells & Butlers and healthy fast food chain Leon.
Today, Advance carries out about 100 projects and 30,000 service calls every year and is intending to efficiently grow both without increasing its current 75-person headcount, thanks to bespoke software such as its IntEquip asset management system.