Carr’s mill at Kirkcaldy

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Listed agriculture and milling group Carr’s has increased pre-tax profits despite its revenues dipping in a record first-half performance. Revenue in the six months to 28 February fell 2.8% to £208.6m but profits rose 5.4% from £10.1m a year ago to £10.6m.

The group said the performance demonstrated the strength of its operational and geographic diversity, with growth maintained in the food division and investment in UK retail Country Store network driving retail sales growth.

CEO Tim Davies said: “The strength of the group, with its international operations and diversity of business, has been demonstrated in the delivery of a record performance in the first six months. This result has been achieved despite some challenging conditions in some of the markets within which we operate.

“Trading in the second half has started well and we remain on track to meet the board’s expectations for the full year.”

In the food division Carr’s, which supplies flour to the likes of Warburtons, added that its three mills had an “excellent” performance which built on the last year’s momentum. Flour sales volumes were higher than last year but, as a result of weaker commodity prices, revenue was lower.

The group’s wide product range and international scope in its agriculture division helped it offset the challenges faced by a decline in UK farm incomes related to the fall in the farmgate milk price.

At the end of the period, net debt at Carr’s had risen from £24.6m at 30 August 2014 to of £26m.

Morning update

The City has yet to show any signs of increased activity following the Easter holidays in terms of the grocery industry in what is another very quiet morning on the markets.

In wider retailer, Halfords will be suffering from déjà vu this morning as it loses its CFO Andrew Findlay to budget airline EasyJet. The bike and car parts chain has only just appointed McDonald’s boss Jill McDonald as its new CEO to replace Matt Davies, who was poached by Tesco earlier this year, and will now have to start the search process again to fill the finance position.

This week in the City

It looks set to be another quiet week on the London Stock Exchange for grocery, with only a small handful of results scheduled.

Poundland releases its latest trading update tomorrow and will hope its numbers can restore some of the value lost from its market cap following a share price plunge last week as a result of the CMA’s doubts over the 99p Store deal.

Thursday brings the half-year results of retail chain WH Smith and a trading announcement from brewer SABMiller. And, finally, McColl’s Retail Group holds its annual general meeting on Friday.

Elsewhere, French dairy group Danone will report its Q1 figures on Wednesday with solid but not spectacular top-line growth forecast by analysts.

Away from the markets, Tuesday is a busy day for economic announcements, with the BRC’s latest sales monitor due out along with the consumer price index, the producer price index and the retail price index from the ONS.

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