Timber supplier Arbor Forest Products has enjoyed a strong year of double digit growth as investment in the North Lincolnshire import and value-added processes continues to pay off.
Turnover was up 16 per cent to £96.7 million – a rise of £13.4 million on the year to March 31 2018 – with operating profit up 25 per cent, from £4.4 million to £5.5 million.
The New Holland-based business supplies the house-building sector, and five years ago entered the MDF market with a first production unit at The Lincoln Castle base.
Production capability has subsequently been doubled at the Humber Bank site, with the £2.8 million investment allowing the company to offer different lengths as well as customers’ own profiles, cross-cutting and trenching.
Consecutive monthly sales increases since 2014 were celebrated earlier this summer.
Signing off the accounts in early December, director Andrew Howarth said: “It was another very positive year as growth in the business continued to outperform the market average.
“The uncertainty caused by ongoing Brexit negotiations is being closely monitored as these plans are made together with the general timber market with the movement of prices experienced in H1 2019.
“However, with the support of its parent company, Arbor Forest Products will continue to invest in both plant and machinery and site capacity to meet growing demand for its products and management are confident that it will be able to continue to grow in medium to long term in a controlled and profitable manner despite the competitive market it operates in.”
Staff numbers increased from 165 to 169 in the year covered off, and Arbor told how new products for existing and emerging markets continue to be developed, with production efficiencies already realised and process and efficiency improvements “constantly being developed”.
In the summer, managing director Jason Ostler had enthused about opportunities in modular construction.
Materials are sourced from overseas, with the vast majority then being machined or treated before entering the market place. It now supplies more than 225,000 sq m of product annually, building on a legacy stretching back 62 years.
Independently owned by the Howarth family, it is part of the Leeds-headquartered Howarth Timber Group.
At group level, turnover increased 13.8 per cent to £226.2 million, up from £198.8 million. Operating profit increased by £100,000, with profits from the merchant business and Arbor offset by losses in a Windows and Doors business, which reported a hit of £1.6 million. That business was closed in September last year, with the decline in the wooden window market cited.
Howarth Timber Merchants saw turnover increase 10.1 per cent to £102.5 million through expanded product ranges and new branch openings, but margins were squeezed.
An engineered solutions arm, producing trusses and beams, saw turnover up 16.6 per cent to £26.5 million, up from £22.7 million. Profit increased £600,000 to £1.3 million.
Howarth’s New Holland Dock Company, which operates for Arbor and third parties, saw revenues up £200,000 to £3 million, with profits also up £200,000, to £900,000, due to increased volumes.
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