Nationwide defies Brexit challenge to grow

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Michael Barker

BY MICHAEL BARKER

@michaelbarker

Nationwide defies Brexit challenge to grow

Supplier increases turnover by 8.6 per cent, with strong growth also seen in its international and fruit businesses

Nationwide defies Brexit challenge to grow

Tim O'Malley

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Nationwide Produce has overcome the challenges of sterling's devaluation to report an 8.6 per cent per cent increase in turnover.

The company, which specialises in the non-retail sector, saw turnover rise to £114 million in the year to 2 June 2017, up from £107.1m a year before, but as the previous year was a 53-week period that translates to an 8.6 per cent increase on a like-for-like basis.

Pre-tax profits held steady at £1.1m, down slighly from last year's £1.2m, while revenue from the Spanish and Dutch operations rose by £5.5m to £46.5m and the Kent fruit business rose 21 per cent to pass £8m in its second year of trading.

"Give or take a few weeks in early June, this is our first full year of Brexit and there's no doubt it has made for tough trading conditions in our industry," managing director Tim O'Malley wrote in the directors' report. "Increase in raw material prices and reduced availability of crucial eastern European labour has squeezed margins throughout the food industry.

"There is also a direct cost to us for running our businesses in the Netherlands and Spain as all costs are ultimately brought back to sterling."

Nevertheless, the company has invested in its offices, with a refurbishment of a newly purchased office in Spalding and the opening of a smaller trading office in Kent for its fruit division.

The firm has also invested in an in-house bespoke ERP system, which O'Malley said the company aimed to upgrade with web-based and app-based online ordering capability. 

"Moving forward we will continue to invest in the business with a £2m project to purchase a large cold-storage warehouse and fleet of lorries in the Evesham area," O'Malley continued. "Evesham is a central hub for the UK produce industry. This major investment will greatly improve our storage and distribution network for the UK. 

"Despite the various challenges facing our business and our industry as a whole, we continue to grow and invest and we remain optimistic for the future."

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