ANM Group records soaring trading profits

A leading Scottish farmer-owned co-operative has turned in a trading profit of £778,000 for 2006 but said there were still challenges that lay ahead.

ANM Group throughput increased by £20.43m to £190.384m during 2006 whilst turnover grew by £2.1m to £88.067m. Meanwhile, shareholder confidence continued to consolidate with share capital rising to just under £5m, a company spokesman said.

At the group's AGM at Thainstone Centre, Inverurie on Tuesday, April 3, a 6.5% dividend on share capital will be confirmed, the spokesman added.

Speaking at the Group's annual press conference at Thainstone Centre, chief executive Brian Pack, (pictured) said: "Our main challenge for 2007 will be to continue to reduce our costs. Our companies operate in very competitive markets so reducing costs and increasing sales is easier said than done."

A spokesman said that it was the company's food firms that experienced the toughest year, particularly Scotch Premier Meat where a loss of £391,000 was recorded.

Pack, said: "The return of cow beef was a boost to the auction side of the business and we are handling good numbers, but the re-introduction of cows has disrupted the beef market and it is still trying to adjust.

"The level of exports is not as high as pre-1996, so most cow beef is having to be absorbed by the home market meaning that there has been an effect on our meat businesses.

"At Highland Country Foods and Charcuterie Continental there may be little change in the results, but there have been significant changes in turnover and staff. A host of new customers were secured in the last quarter of 2006 and sales were up quite a lot during that period."

He added that the group was confident that the staff changes that had been put in place would start to pay dividends in 2007.

"The challenge in both cases is now to examine margins as is the case with so many parts of the group," he said.

Pack added: "The current drive is for organic growth in the parts of the business we already have, but new opportunities will be looked at if and when they arise."