Pre-tax profit at Arcese UK fell over 30% in the year to the end of December, accounts posted at Companies House have shown.

Turnover at the Thurrock-based firm, which runs around 80 vehicles, rose almost 1.7% during 2013 to £24.07m (2012: £23.67m) but profits before tax fell to just under £259,000 (2012: £372,000). The slide resulted in a profit margin of just 1.07% in the year, down from 1.57% in 2012.

Arcese UK MD Keith Luetchford was not available for comment but the accounts themselves, however, Luetchford sounded a positive note about the year, albeit admitting that rates were still an issue.

“Trading volumes in 2013 remained positive and stable with an ever growing confidence back in the UK market despite the continued European crisis,” noted Luetchford. “Whilst rates have not been increased in 2013, the company has continued to look for synergies and opportunities to reduce costs without compromise to service or the wellbeing of our very professional and loyal long-term workforce.

“We continued to have a large and varied customer base to give us both security and flexibility within our business sector,” he added. “All our major accounts will continue in 2014 and we are working to increase both turnover and operating profits in 2014.”

Luetchford also mentioned fuel prices in his report, suggesting that despite the firm's fuel surcharge, fuel was "not a fully recoverable cost". It therefore “continues to be a high risk for the company”, he said, with “a major impact on profitability”.

Arcese UK's fall in profit during 2013 contrasts starkly with its 2012 results, when it revealed profits before tax up 77% on the previous year.