Blackburn-based distributor, Acme Facilities Group, has re-entered the Power Players list (its last appearance was 2019), after turning its financial performance around in just one year. While its 2018 financial results reported loss-making due to winding down discontinued operations, the company’s latest financials show it’s back in the black.
In the 12 months to 31 December 2019 the dealer posted a £1.3m profit, a massive 164% up on a loss of nearly £2m the previous year. Turnover also grew by 7% from £10.1m in 2018 to £10.8m the following year, with gross profit margin rising from 6% to 14%. While we don’t yet have 2020’s results available, group MD Chris Allen said: “Despite the unforeseen challenges that 2020 has brought, we remain confident in the future and optimistic for returning profit.”
He detailed: “When the first lockdown happened we were definitely sailing into the unknown and there were genuine concerns of what actions would be needed to ensure the survival of the business. Thankfully the speed of recovery in spring/summer 2020 showed us how our customers would bounce back. The strategy quickly changed to be less about profit and loss performance, and all about retaining our financial and personnel strengths. In the end 2020 finished a lot better than our original fears and gave us a confidence that even though it may take a couple of post-Covid years to get back to normal operating levels, it will.”
So how did Acme make it through this tough period? “I actually think it was the history and culture of Acme that were the strengths that got us through,” said Allen. “Acme has always remained a ‘family type’ business going back to their beginnings in the 1960’s and even though we are owned by a much larger group they have always been management friendly and interfere very little in the running of the business. Our management teams have many years of Acme experience and we have multiple examples of personnel progressing from engineer apprentice to senior management.”
And on how the distributor helped its clients, Allen revealed: “We froze all our rental and rent to buy contracts whilst our customers were not trading. We worked with some of our key customers on cash flow and allowed them to take longer to pay whilst keeping a level of cash flow coming in, and we have also sent out lots of decommissioning and recommissioning instructions.
“We have seen a lot of gratitude from our customers large and small; one of our key measures is customer retention and when you enter a period like this your decisions have to be about the long term.”
Acme group MD Chris Allen detailed his firm’s supplier rapport: “Our relationships with our suppliers and company credit terms are important to us, so apart from the first couple of months in lockdown, one where we lengthened some payment terms, we have continued to pay everybody as normal. Some equipment suppliers have worked with us on pricing when we have had budget pressures from the customer. Working together to get a customer back on their feet has been nice to see.”