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Welsh wholesaler Castell Howell saw turnover grow by 48% in the year ended October 2022, according to newly filed Companies House results.

Turnover for the financial year rose from £112m to £166m, following a successful post-pandemic recovery.

In addition, pre-tax profits over the same period increased by 59% to £13.7m despite the challenging business environment.

The results also include Castell Howell’s processing companies Celtica Foods, Farmfresh Fillings, Authentic Curry Company, Celtic Coast Fish and Llandeilo Bakers.

Castell Howell said the 2022 results reflected a full recovery in sales following the end of Covid restrictions, combined with increased operational efficiencies introduced across the business during the pandemic.

The business acknowledged that prospects for next financial year were less certain due to high interest rates affecting running costs and hitting customers’ disposable income.

However, it said it remained in a position of relative strength due to two consecutive years of improved profitability.

Last month, The Grocer reported that turnover for the latest financial year had been boosted by the introduction of the Welsh free school meals policy.

The new scheme, which launched in September last year, intends to offer all primary school pupils in Wales a universal free school meal by 2024.

It has resulted in a 15% uptick in local authority sales for the wholesaler as the rollout continues to gather pace.

“We are now focused on delivering our investment plans of £4.4m this year in renewing and expanding the vehicle fleet and in moving forward over the course of the next two years, with the expansion of the warehousing and processing capacity at Cross Hands and distribution hub in north west Wales,” said Castell Howell financial director Nigel Williams.

“Customer demand so far this year, despite the significant challenges faced by the hospitality sector, has remained resilient, supported by the diversity of the customer base, which includes schools and hospitals as well as our core hospitality sector base.

“We expect turnover to approach £200m for the first time this year and for profits to remain stable despite increases in wage costs and continued pressure on gross margins as a result of the inflationary impact on pricing over the past two years.