Wessex Grain triples profits, results show

Farmer-controlled business Wessex Grain has tripled its operating profits in the last year, according to its latest set of results.

Figures for the year ending July 31 2008 show turnover increased by 51% to £63.8m, while pre-tax profits recorded an astonishing 150% growth.

The business had continued a process of change since it swapped its co-operative structure for limited-company status in 2003, said managing director Simon Wilcox.

“The market has seen considerable volatility in the last couple of years and this has created more opportunities for us. We’ve stepped back from chasing tonnage for tonnage’s sake, and formed our activity around matching the right business with the right home,” Mr Wilcox said.

He admitted the sharp increase in profits had been helped by starting from a low base, but added that pre-tax profits had climbed from £27,000 to £190,000. The business now has 256 shareholders and traded about 500,000t of grain each year from its base at Henstridge, Somerset.

“These results mean that we have achieved our targets for 2008, and they give us an excellent platform to face the future. By investing in the right people and equipment we can minimise costs and maximise profits for farmers, while offering a competitive price and efficient service to our customers,” Mr Wilcox said.

“During the coming year we will continue to focus on our core business of grain trading and on providing the kind of personalised service our suppliers and customer have come to expect from us.”

Wessex Grain’s balance sheet had strengthened further to £2.8m this year due to retained profits. The business would continue to evolve, Mr Wilcox said, investing nearly £200,000 in a new 60t/hour drier which would increase intake capacity by 46% in time for harvest 2009.

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