Associated Cold Stores & Transport (ACS&T) said it ended last year in a strong financial position after Covid-19 resulted in a 17% reduction in turnover and knocked almost two-thirds off its pre-tax profit.

The Grimsby temperature controlled storage and distribution company said market conditions had been “challenging” in 2020, particularly after schools closed and the hospitality sector shut down.

Warehouse utilisation increased by 10%, but it said average pallet throughput fell by 23% and total loads transported decreased by 22% compared to 2019.

But ACS&T added that seasonal business and the introduction of a strategic customer account allowed the business to end the year on a positive note.

For the year ending 2 January 2021, it reported revenue of £21.1m, compared to £25.5m in the previous period ending 28 December 2019.

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Pre-tax profit was £601,000 (£1.8m).

ACS&T said there had been considerable capital investment during 2020, with a significant chunk of the £1.4m spent going on tractor fleet replacement, a new blast freezer and energy efficiency expenditure.

“In 2020, the company continued with its key differentiator of quality staff, to invest in the training of those staff and to grow the skills and capabilities of the workforce,” it said.

“We continued to develop our apprentices and utilise the apprenticeship levy through our apprenticeship training programs in engineering, customer services, finance and IT departments and our extensive operations program.

“At the end of 2020, the company was in a strong financial position with net assets standing at £18.4m,” it added.