Pre-tax profits and revenues are up at Carlisle-headquartered agricultural and engineering firm Carr’s Group.

While the company saw revenues rise slightly to £403.90 million, pre-tax profits jumped by 5.2 per cent to £16.3m for the year ending August 31, 2019.

Operating profit was up 4.8 per cent from £16.4m in the previous year to £17.2m for the same period, with the company trading “moderately ahead” of Board expectations.

Basic earnings per share has increased by 0.8 per cent to 13.1p, with a 5.4 per cent increase in the dividend per share of 4.75p.

The group’s outgoing chairman, Chris Holmes, described the performance during the past year as “strong”.

Carr's Group has more than 50 UK sites, a robotics business in Germany and animal-feed plants in the United States.

Its Cumbrian operations include the Carrs Billington agricultural machinery dealerships and country retail stores, and Bendalls Engineering.

The performance of its agricultural division had been “robust”, the company said, in the light of on-going uncertainty around Brexit and the unseasonable weather in the UK.

Across ‘The Pond’, consistently wet weather had resulted in lower volumes of feed blocks, although the outlook for the US market looked positive in the medium term with large areas of the country emerging from drought for the first time in a number of years.

The impact of the economic and environmental storm clouds had been mitigated by a mixture of cost control, manufacturing efficiencies and “effective” raw material procurement.

The group also said plans to establish Animax – the Suffolk-based manufacturer of animal health products it acquired in a £8.5m deal in 2018 – as a centre of excellence for innovation and product development were well underway.

Meanwhile, a new structure in the Carr’s Engineering division was helping to bring closer collaboration and improved business development, the company said.

The division’s order book remains strong, with the acquisition of Barrow-based NW Total in June in a £9.6m deal, providing more opportunities to grow in the nuclear defence market.

Mr Holmes said: “We are pleased to have delivered a strong financial performance in the year, moderately ahead of the Board’s expectations, despite unseasonable weather significantly impacting trading across our agriculture division.

“We also made good strategic progress during the year, including acquisitions across both divisions where integration is progressing well.

“Our engineering division delivered a strong performance, building on momentum in the prior year. We believe the newly established structure of our engineering division will position us better for sustainable growth, enabling closer collaboration between businesses and better business development.”

Mr Holmes will stand down from the position of chairman at the Carr’s Group AGM on January 7.

He added: “I am confident that I leave the company in an excellent position to build upon on its strong market positions and capabilities, expand its international footprint and deliver sustained growth.”

He is due to be replaced by Peter Page, who became non-executive director and chairman designate on November 1.

Mr Page was most recently chief executive of Devro plc, one of the world's leading manufacturers of collagen casings for the food industry.