The Ali Group’s biggest UK subsidiary has declared it is “optimistic” about future sales growth despite conceding that customers are tightening their spending in the face of economic uncertainties.
AFE Group, which owns Falcon, Williams, Mono and service businesses Serviceline and Millers Vanguard, posted a solid 4.5% rise in sales to £123.6m for the year to 31 August 2017, with directors of the firm calling the growth “pleasing” in the face of changing market conditions.
In a trading summary contained in annual accounts filed with Companies House this month, the group said that while new order opportunities were impacted by market challenges, it remains confident that investment in new products and an operational focus on continual improvement and lean activities leave it in a healthy position. “Despite headwinds we remain optimistic for future sales growth and our focus remains resolutely on delivering new products and unparalleled support to our customers.”
AFE Group said that all its businesses had achieved “acceptable” turnover levels in 2017, but reserved special praise for baking equipment arm Mono, which saw good growth. Mono also drove a 7% rise in export sales to £7.9m.
Operating profit at AFE fell from £15m to £13.6m, but the company noted that the previous year’s figure included a non-recurring income of £2.6m relating to an insurance claim.
Looking ahead to future developments, the directors of the group, which is led by CEO Tim Smith, said efforts were being made to adapt its products and business model to be in a position to make the most of new opportunities.
One principal focus is new regulations arising from the Energy Related Products Directive, which sets minimum energy performance standards for certain product groups, and F-Gas guidelines.
“The company is closely involved in the standards setting and industry trade body consultation groups working with the EU Commission in agreeing the regulatory framework and future implementation dates,” it said.
The AFE Group employs 1,260 staff across its five UK businesses.
According to FEJ’s most recent ‘State of the Nation’ report, it is the second largest catering equipment group operating in the UK by annual turnover.