By FW staff

SCOTLANDS biggest auction mart company, United Auctions, has reported an operating loss of £790,000 for the year to 31 January.

The loss was in line with expectations but a long way from the £1 million-a-year profit being recorded before the BSE crisis.

In his annual report statement, chairman John Izat said the firm had suffered from reduced throughput of stock and much lower prices. Increased charges, especially for water, had also hit margins.

The loss came after some sales of property. But the more recent £3m sale of mart premises in Inverness was not included in the 1998 accounts.

Interest charges rose by £150,000 to £540,000.

Turnover fell £1m to £8m and sales costs dropped £60,000 to £6.5m. Administration cost £2.5m.

The firm has in the past year invested £250,000 in its wholly owned AI company and has also bought a farm in Caithness to act as a holding centre for animals from Orkney and Shetland.