NWF Group’s chief executive has praised the company for its “strong” performance in the face of Brexit, Covid-19 and a cyber-attack - despite a fall in both revenue and pre-tax profit.

Reporting its annual results for the year to 31 May 2021, the specialist distributor of fuel, food and feed revealed that revenue fell by 1.7% to £675.6m (2020: £687.5m) with pre-tax profit declining 10% to £10.8m (2020: £12m).

Despite these falls the group, which operates a fleet of 154 fuel tankers, 40 feed trucks, 118 food trucks and 306 trailers, remained upbeat this week, describing the results as “strong” and ahead of pre-pandemic market expectations.

Two of the group’s three divisions saw their operating profits fall in the period. The fuel division delivered an operating profit of £9.3m, down from £11m in the previous year.

However the group insisted this was still a strong performance, ahead of expectations and had to be compared against the prior year benefitting from significant oil price volatility. It added that strong gas and heating oil sales are driving further improvement.

The feeds division’s operating profit also fell in the period to £1.7m (2020: £1.9m) with performance hit by “unprecedented” commodity price increases during the winter and the impact of a cyber-attack in November 2020.

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However the food division saw better results in the period, reporting a headline operating profit of £1.9m (2020: £1.4m). The division saw a second half recovery after volatile trading conditions in the first half as a result of Brexit and pandemic buying patterns.

The group, which owns Boughey Distribution, added that the new Crewe warehouse has now been fully utilised and is delivering benefits to the business in line with expectations with efficiency improvements also helping to boost profits.

Commenting on the annual results, Richard Whiting, NWF Group chief executive said: “NWF has delivered another strong set of results, ahead of expectations set before the pandemic, demonstrating continued performance, delivery and resilience.

“Our teams have worked hard during the year meeting customers’ needs whilst staying safe. I’m proud of how we have responded to the challenges of Covid-19, Brexit and a cyber incident and exited the year strongly, with significant financial capacity and a clear growth strategy.

“There is a significant opportunity for growth backed by strong cash flows and flexible banking facilities alongside a strong asset base. We will therefore continue to consider acquisition opportunities, building on our successful track record of acquiring and integrating businesses, as well as investment in organic development.

“Performance to date in the current financial year has been in line with the Board’s expectations. Overall, the Board continues to remain confident about the Group’s future prospects.”