Fowler Welch has reported a broadly static half-yearly revenue for the period ended 30 September, achieving £78.1m (2013:£78.2m), with its operating margin also holding firm at 2.7% (2013:2.7%).

The company said overall operating profit fell 11% to £1.6m (2013: £1.8m) as a result of expected start-up losses at a new joint venture in Teynham, Kent, which launched in May, storing, ripening and packing stone-fruit and exotic and organic fruits. However, it added that margins were encouraging in this business, with volumes committed into the following year and the operation is expected to generate a profit in the second half.

A major distribution contract for a Danish pork product processor, which built on existing business, was successfully implemented at Spalding.

At Heywood, the implementation of a substantial beverages contract was impacted by lower than anticipated stock holdings, however, the operation has now stabilised and further new revenue is planned for the final quarter.

Fowler Welch also revealed that its focus on operational efficiency following the roll out of the company’s Enterprise transport planning system, has contributed to improved gross margins due to better visibility of vehicle performance, which it said is important in the context of increasing cost pressures in the industry in general.

The company said its 450-strong fleet of tractor units improved efficiency from 9mpg in 2013 to 9.4mpg in 2014. It revealed last year that it intended to replace one quarter of its fleet with Euro-6 vehicles in December 2014, following the results on an extensive trial.

Parent company Dart Group said in a statement: “The Fowler Welch business will continue to focus on growing its revenue pipeline and the successful development of existing and new business opportunities.”