NWF eyeing acquisitions after annual results exceed expectations

NWF Group, the Nantwich-based food, fuel and feed distributor, hailed “another strong set of results ahead of expectations” today as it announced figures for the year to May 31, and said acquisitions are on the horizon.

Revenues were down slightly at £675.6m, compared with £687.5m the previous year, and pre-tax profits were down 10% at £10.8m.

However, net debt reduced by 19% to £31.3m, and the total dividend per sure has been increased by 4.3% to 7.2p per share, which the board said reflected its confidence in the prospects for the business.

NWF said the results reflect the second highest profit performance on record for the group after the prior year benefitted from a significant fall in the oil price.

There was an outperformance in the fuels division with strong heating oil demand supported by a cold winter and an increase in home working during the pandemic. It made a headline operating profit of £9.3m (2020: £11.0m).

Food produced a strong second half recovery, delivering on the anticipated benefits of the new Crewe warehouse, which has been fully utilised.

Its headline operating profit of £1.9m compared with £1.4m in 2020 and there was a good second half recovery after volatile trading conditions in the first half as a result of Brexit and pandemic buying patterns.

The group’s feeds performance was impacted by the significant increase in feed commodity prices and reduced management information as a result of the cyber incident last November. The headline operating profit was £1.7m against £1.9m last year.

Overall, there has been a continued effective response to COVID-19. All divisions have remained open and operational, providing essential services, NWF has continually updated risk assessments across the group, enabling safe working and meeting customer needs, no government support has been utilised and no staff furloughed, and the balance sheet remains in a strong position.

The performance to date in the current financial year has been in line with the board’s expectations.

Chief executive, Richard Whiting, 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.”

He added: “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.”