Livestocks auctioneers H&H warn profits will be hit by foot and mouth

H&H Group, which includes livestock auctioneers Harrison and Hetherington, has announced a 37% increase in annual operating profits, but warned next years results would be hit by the foot and mouth outbreaks.

Operating profits for the group rose to £2.07m for the year to the end of June, up £559,000 on 2006.

But with Harrison and Hetherington auction marts, which account for 40% of the group’s turnover, forced to close during the foot and mouth outbreaks, H&H said it expected profits in 2008 to be lower.

‘Virtual shutdown’

Trevor Hebdon, H&H’s chief executive, said the outbreaks had led to a “virtual shutdown” of the auction company in August and September, losing the firm 305,000 head of cattle at a cost of £32m.

“It had been an outstanding year for Harrison and Hetherington, and now we have been hit in what is our peak time,” Mr Hebdon said.

“It will take a long time to get back to normal and the outbreak will definitely leave a mark on the business and the rest of the industry.”

‘Disappointing’

Mr Hebdon, who announced he is set to stand down as chief executive of the H&H Group in May next year, said the auction markets in the low risk areas of England and Wales would begin operating at the weekend.

“They will run seven days a week to try to catch up with lost sales,” he said.

“We hope to regain some of the money, but some will be lost. We are not sure how badly we will be hit, but profits will be nowhere near as considerable as the 12 months just ended. It’s very disappointing.”

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