Carr's Group Plc - Latest Trading Update
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CARR'S GROUP PLC
("Carr's" or the "Group")
Carr's (CARR.L), the Agriculture and Engineering Group, provides a trading update to coincide with its Annual General Meeting being held as a closed meeting in Carlisle today at 11:30am. This update relates to the 19-week period ended 9 January 2021.
Update on trading
The Group has made a positive start to the year with trading overall in line with the Board's expectations.
During the period, the Group remained almost fully operational despite the COVID-19 pandemic, adhering to government guidelines and prioritising the health, safety and wellbeing of colleagues and customers at all times.
The Agriculture division is trading ahead of the Board's expectations. The Supplements business has seen strong global demand in the period, driven by resilient cattle prices in the USA and increased exports into the Republic of Ireland. Trading in the UK Agriculture business is as expected.
Whilst good progress continues to be made on projects in the nuclear and defence sectors, there has been an impact from the reduction in oil and gas investment due to the weakened oil price, leaving performance in the Engineering division behind the Board's expectations.
The Group's financial position remains strong. Net debt at 28 November 2020, excluding leases, was £20.4m (30 November 2019: £26.7m). This reduction in debt was ahead of the Board's expectations due to a continuing focus on cash management and lower working capital requirements.
At the conclusion of today's AGM, Hugh Pelham will be appointed as Chief Executive Officer, subject to election at that meeting and upon Tim Davies standing down from the Board. The Board would like to place on record its gratitude to Tim for the contribution made during his tenure as CEO. Tim will remain available to the Board and the Group to share his advice and knowledge during a handover period.
Subject to shareholder approval at today's AGM, the proposed final dividend of 2.5 pence per share for the year ended 29 August 2020 will be paid on 15 January 2021 to shareholders on the register at close of business on 4 December 2020. The ex-dividend date was 3 December 2020.
The UK Government's announcement on 24 December 2020 of an agreed future trading relationship with the EU provides clarity for the Group. The deal ensures that our customers remain competitive across the EU as the UK begins its long-term transition towards a new system of agricultural support.
COVID-19 continues to present a challenge for all businesses. Whilst some reduced activity in Engineering remains due to the weakened oil price, the Group is well placed overall as a supplier of essential goods and services with well-established procedures in place to protect staff and customers.
The Board remains confident in the long-term prospects of the Group's Agriculture and Engineering divisions.
Peter Page, Chairman, commented:
"The Board is encouraged by the robust performance of the business in the first four months of the year. The essential nature of our products and services enables us to maintain trading relationships in challenging circumstances. The commitment and dedication of all staff and colleagues is greatly appreciated by the Board.
"I take this opportunity to pay tribute to Tim Davies for his contribution during the past almost eight years. Carr's has made substantial progress under his leadership. Tim's personal commitment to supporting colleagues over the last 12 months has been particularly impressive.
"The Board welcomes Hugh Pelham and we look forward to working with him in the years ahead."
The Company expects to announce its interim results for the 26-week period ending 27 February 2021 on 21 April 2021.