Fowler Welch saw pre-tax profit fall by more than a third in the first half of its current financial year, after it was hit by the late delivery of new ambient contracts.

Pre-tax profit at the fruit and vegetable distributor dropped to £2.3m in the six months to 30 September 2016 (2015: £3.5m), despite the division seeing an 11% increase in turnover to £80m (2015: £72.3m).

Parent company Dart Group said margins were hit by new ambient contracts starting later than expected, as well as a £400,000 bad debt write-off in relation to a customer that went into administration.

During first half of the year the operator completed a 500,000ft² extension to its Teynham, Kent, site and expanded its joint venture fruit packing business Integrated Service Solutions.

It said its 10-year agreement with Dairy Crest, which commenced in June, provided an important additional revenue stream for the business.

Total warehousing space increased from 847,000ft² to 899,000ft² during the year to 30 September. The number of tractor units increased from 420 to 440 and trailer numbers rose from 637 to 662.