NWF Group saw its half-year pre-tax profit leap by 26% after landing a major new food distribution contract and buying another three fuel distribution operators.

Reporting its first half-year results to 30 November 2019 the fuel, food and feed distributor, which owns Palletline member Boughey Distribution, unveiled a 5.6% rise in turnover to £348.9m (H1 2018: £330.5m). In the same period pre-tax profit jumped 26.3% to £2.4m (H1 2018: £1.9m).

NWF’s fuels division saw revenue up by 10.6% to £245.9m (H1: 2018: £222.4m) aided by three acquisitions, two of which were post-period.

The acquisitions include Ribble Fuel Oils, purchased in July. The Preston-based firm specialises in the distribution of diesel, gas, fuel oil, industrial heating oil, kerosene and petrol and has depots in Preston, Southport, Halifax and Kirkby Lonsdale.

In October NWF purchased Caldo’s St Helen’s-based bulk fuel business, along with the Caldo trading name and followed this with the acquisition in December of Yeoville family firm Ron Darch and Sons, a 35 million litre fuel distributor.

These latest deals bring the total number of fuel division acquisitions made by the group in the past 12 months to five.

NWF’s food division saw revenue rise 2.5% to £24.4m (H1: 2018: £23.8 million). Storage volumes rose to an average of 106,000 pallet spaces (H1: 2018: 96,000), boosted by new customers and Brexit uncertainty.

The group said its new five-year deal with a major food customer will bring “significant expansion”.

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In preparation the food division also signed a 12-year lease to operate a newly constructed 240,000 sq ft warehouse in Crewe, which is close to the group’s Wardle-based headquarters and which increases the division’s capacity from 100,000 to 137,000 pallets.

Lower commodity prices hit NWF’s feeds division, with revenues falling by 6.8% to £78.6m (H1 2018: £84.3m), despite increased feed volumes, which rose by 6.5% to 297,000 tonnes (H1 2018: 279,000 tonnes).

Richard Whiting, NWF Group chief executive said: “We have continued the expansion of NWF in line with our strategy; acquiring five fuel businesses in the last 12 months, increasing our annualised volumes by almost 30%.

“We are also significantly expanding the food division with a major new contract and warehouse, which is expected to benefit our next financial year.”

Looking to the future, Philip Acton, NWF Group chairman said: “Our financial position is strong and we continue to focus on growth initiatives, both organic and through targeted acquisitions.”