JCB has announced that 2012 was the best year in its 67-year history. Earnings rose from £355m in 2011 to £365m in 2012 on turnover that remained virtually unchanged at £2.7bn. Despite the global market contracting by 10%, the number of machines sold rose slightly from 69,100 in 2011 to 69,250 in 2012.

“While construction equipment markets in many parts of the world remained weak, that has been more than offset by strong growth in our agricultural products, particularly in materials handling,” said JCB chairman Sir Anthony Bamford.

“Despite continued uncertainty, particularly in European economies, 2013 has started satisfactorily. We are expecting some growth this year, but how much will depend on the pace of the global recovery.”

JCB’s business in Africa doubled last year; in the Americas it increased by 20% and in the Middle East it grew by 12%. In 2012, the company also retained its position as the number one construction equipment manufacturer in the UK, Europe and in India and remains the biggest manufacturer of backhoe loaders and telescopic handlers.

In 2012 JCB opened a new factory in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and announced plans for a new £62m facility in Jaipur – JCB’s fourth Indian manufacturing plant – which is due to open in 2014.