6 October 1995

Good and bad for Usborne

A MARKED improvement in the pig division was marred by a fall in profits from grain merchanting in the last financial year for Hants-based merchant Usborne.

Overall the company made a loss of £622,000 on sales of £184m to June 30. But this was far removed from the £13.2m loss it suffered in 1993/94 on the back of financial problems with pigs.

Since then the pig operation has been reorganised (concentrating on outdoor units) and prices have firmed significantly. As such, last years loss of £12m has been cut to just £552,000 and the business continues to head in the right direction.

But the agricultural services division, which is mainly made up of grain trading, saw profits fall to £55,000 on sales of £166m, compared with £926,000 on £186m the previous year. "We had a good year in specialist grains, malting barley and milling wheat, but margins were poor in bulk grains due to overcapacity in the market," said group managing director Mike Adams. This overcapacity continues to blight the trade. But directors are optimistic a return to profitability is not far off.