28 April 1995

Efficiency helps Sentry Group boost pre-tax profits by 24%

By Tim Relf

EXPANDING the area farmed and reducing costs helped Sentry Farming Group to increase profits in 1994.

The farm management and advisory company, with interests throughout the south and east of England, has announced a 24% rise in pre-tax profits from £786,000 to £977,000.

Sentry attributes over half of the increase (£101,000) to growth and improved efficiency, and the remainder to property deals. Over the same period, turnover grew 13% to £7.14m.

Managing director Andrew Mason says that currency factors played a less significant part in boosting profits in 1994 than they had the previous year.

The figures coincide with the companys introduction to the Official List of the London Stock Exchange. Prior to the move, the company appeared on the Unlisted Securities Market, where it has been for five years since its merger with Associated Farmers.

As the only specialist farm management company listed, chairman Nigel Brown says Sentry now represents "one direct way for the public to invest in British agriculture". With the USM due to close next year, the move also gives existing shareholders more scope to trade their assets.

Land controlled by the firm, much of which is under contract farming agreements, increased by 16% to 55,000 acres in 1994.

Cereals contributed 36% to the value of product sales during the year (winter wheat being the main crop), while milk accounted for 17% and root crops 22%.

Share dealings are expected to commence on May 1. Currently the 25p shares are valued at 96p. No new shares are being issued to accompany the listing. &#42

Andrew Mason says green £ changes were less significant in boosting profits last year