Pandemic slices £100m off Nisbets’ sales

Plymouth_003 crop
Nisbets has bounced back in 2021, opening new trade counter format stores recently such as this one in Plymouth.

Bristol-headquartered catering equipment giant Nisbets has revealed how severely Covid has affected its finances.

In its latest annual report, now publicly available from Companies House, the company details that in the 12 months to 31 December 2020 it generated £313.6m in turnover. This represents a 24% cut from 2019’s £414.1m in sales.

Operating profit also dipped by 17%, from 2019’s £13.1m to last year’s £10.9m.

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Chief financial officer Stephen Marshall stated in the report: “Covid-19 has had a widespread and severe impact on the group’s customer base, particularly on the hospitality sector, where revenue has been impacted by periods of enforced closures and capacity restrictions imposed as a result of ongoing social distancing.

“The business took all reasonable steps to reduce costs in the wake of such a significant reduction in revenue whilst retaining the potential to respond to increasing demand as the hospitality sector re-emerges post Covid-19.”

The steps included reviewing and restructuring the group’s cost base, resulting in exceptional costs of £3.6m. Marshall commented: “This was a difficult decision that affected a significant number of valued colleagues, but it was clear that the crisis impacted all levels of our organisation and we therefore had to move swiftly to tailor our cost base accordingly.”

Nisbets also launched new products linked to the pandemic and continued to focus on understanding its customers’ buying behaviours and needs.

Further measures included securing additional credit facilities of £35m in August 2020, which remain undrawn at the year-end thanks to a focus on working capital, leaving the group with a year-end cash position of £49.4m, and securing £9.7m of relevant government grant initiatives available to the group.

Nisbets also didn’t declare a dividend to ensure that the group is best placed to react to any other impacts from the pandemic.

Marshall concluded: “Our customer diversification, rapid new product introduction, international coverage and market-leading range will allow us to trade successfully through this period of volatility. This is founded on the resilience, commitment and capability that our colleagues have demonstrate throughout the course of the year, for which we thank them.

“We believe the group is well-positioned to provide the service, range and availability that our sector requires as the roll-out of the vaccine allows it to emerge from Covid-19.”

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Clare Nicholls

The author Clare Nicholls

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