Ali Group’s principal UK subsidiary sets out stall in face of market volatility

Falcon factory

Ali Group’s largest UK subsidiary has reiterated its commitment to investing in new product development and service solutions despite having to realign its operations to reflect reduced activity levels until the hospitality sector is fully reopen.

The AFE Group, which employs more than 1,100 people in the UK and comprises Falcon Foodservice Equipment, Williams Refrigeration, Monoquip, Serviceline and Miller’s Vanguard, said its turnover had been “materially impacted” by the pandemic due to “significant volatility” in the market.

The group’s financial year runs from September to August, so the first half of its 2020 accounts were unaffected by the pandemic. However, the second half of that accounting period coincided with foodservice establishments being ordered to close during the first lockdown.

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Sales for the 12 months to 31 August 2020 reached £98.6m, a 18% reduction on the £120m it generated during its last full year before the pandemic.

Operating profit halved from £12.6m to £6.8m year-on-year.

In their review of the business, AFE Group’s directors wrote: “As a consequence of the unprecedented period of uncertainty and business disruption, we have seen significant changes in customer demand. We have realigned our operations to reflect the reduced activity levels that we anticipate will remain with us until we see a substantial reduction in infection rates and vaccine programmes are extended to allow our customers to reopen their businesses.”

The company has remained focused on new product development despite the uncertainty, launching medical and pharmacy refrigeration and a range of healthcare cooking, server and meal delivery systems.

It has also developed IoT platforms to provide greater connectivity for each of its bakery, cooking and refrigeration product groups.

On the service side, meanwhile, Serviceline has moved to a new call centre facility offering various benefits including a more comfortable working environment for employees, while warehousing facilities at Millers Vanguard have been expanded to support its growth and enhance the health and safety of employees.

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Andrew Seymour

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