Unexpected behaviour by supermarket customers, alongside the closure of its operating base in the Europe, led to a fall in turnover and pre-tax profit at Fowler Welch.

For the year-ending 31 March 2014 turnover at Fowler Welch, a division of Dart Group, dipped to £153.2m, from £155.2m in the previous year. Pre-tax profit fell from £4.4m to £3.3m.

The temperature-controlled specialist said that the fall in turnover was primarily due to the closure of its European depot in the Netherlands. It also cited the need for extra resourcing to meet what it called “the unexpectedly varied profile of seasonal volumes for its supermarket customers” last summer.

Staff numbers for the year rose to 1,388 from 1,355 in 2013.

Turnover it its ambient shared user site in Heywood, Manchester, rose 4%, while its DC in Lincolnshire saw 2.5% growth, with both securing new business for 2014/15 including that of food producer Tulip.

Fowler Welch also plans to offer more services to agricultural produce customers at its Teynham, Kent, site by increasing its packing and processing capabilities. As a result it has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding for a joint venture with an un-named party to store, ripen and pack stone-fruit, and exotic and organic fruits at Teynham.

The company also revealed that across its fleet of 450 tractors and 640 trailers it had achieved an average of 8.9mpg, up 2% from 8.7mpg in 2013.

Dart Group chairman Philip Meeson said: “We are pleased that the many business initiatives laid in place by the vigorous management of the distribution division are now coming to fruition. Given these developments we believe there is a bright, interesting and profitable future ahead.”