29 March 2002

Profit leap for auction

By Shelley Wright

Scotland correspondent

DESPITE the impact that foot-and-mouth had on its livestock auction business, ANM Group recorded an overall increase of more than £1m in profit after tax.

Figures for the year also showed a doubling in current assets to £6.6m, leading to speculation that the business, which concentrates mainly on livestock marketing and meat processing, could be about to expand.

"The balance sheet suggests we are cash-rich," said chief executive Brian Pack. "We would consider this an opportunity to grow the business," he added.

Trading profit for the 2001 calendar year fell just over 10% to £1.3m. Turnover of £66.2m was down £2.5m on the year. But the sale for £1.75m of ANMs former abattoir in Edinburgh, which closed in 1998, boosted the final figures. After transferring £1m to its staff pension fund, the group recorded a profit after tax of £2.2m – up £1.2m on 2000.

A dividend of 7% for the groups 7500 shareholders is proposed.

The livestock auction side of the business, trading as Aberdeen and Northern Marts, was hardest hit by F&M, recording an overall loss of £247,000 compared with pre-tax profit last year of £253,000.

The groups meat division was the biggest contributor to overall profitability, with Scotch Premier Meat increasing trading profit 8% to £622,000 and Yorkshire Premier Meat recording a 41% leap in trading profit of £800,000. &#42