Stobart reports ‘robust’ results in tough market

Stobart Group has reported a strong performance despite a challenging market for transport within its interim results for the six months ended to September.

Stobart said pre-tax profit increased 6.5% to £16.4m. Revenue was up 15.3% to £281.1m, compared to £243.7m in 2010.

The Carlisle and Warrington-based company said pre-tax profit in its transport and distribution division, by far the largest of the group's five divisions, declined to £13.7m, from £15m in 2010, while revenue was up to £265.9m from £230.4m last year.

Andrew Tinkler, chief executive officer of Stobart Group, said: "We have delivered a robust performance across the Group despite a tough market for transport. Our new strategy is being implemented and we are well positioned to deliver strong results in the medium term.

"The weak economy, however, has held back our rate of profit growth particularly in transport and distribution.

"The road transport operations were affected by fluctuating customer demand during the summer, but we have substantially improved our operational information systems allowing us to manage this volatility much better and achieve cost savings. This has meant that the division is back on track and profitability has broadly returned to previous expected levels."

Within its estates division, Tinkler said a decision on a revised planning application for the redevelopment of the group's Carlisle Airport site is expected during the second half of the year.

Tinkler added: "Estates is on track to deliver future value and has a number of potential property transactions in the pipeline.

"Our biomass business is expanding quickly as a result of demand from both the UK and overseas and we expect plenty of new opportunities to arise from the fast-growing renewable energy sector."

He was also pleased with the performance Stobart's multimodal site in Widnes, which handles around 100,000 shipping containers a year.

Tinkler said: "The inland port's container movements for the first six months are slightly up compared to the prior year due to increased utilisation of existing rail services. An additional daily rail service is due to start in October 2011 that will connect the site by rail to the east coast port of Teesport. The volume from this service will contribute to both the terminal activity and the Transport operation. Increased train length due to new locomotives will also add to load fill towards the end of the year on the deep sea rail services."

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