Nisbets has given its first formal indication that the sort of lofty double-digit growth that has come to characterise its business in recent years might be out of reach until the situation on Brexit reaches its conclusion.
Annual accounts for the company were published on Companies House this morning and show the business grew turnover by 5% to £398.1m for the 12 months to 31 December 2018.
The figure cements its status as the UK’s most dominant catering equipment force but the slowing rate of growth – compared to 18% and 26% in the previous two years – led to it citing the “challenging trading conditions” that it faced last year.
It said that both business and consumer confidence were impacted by the ongoing political and macroeconomic uncertainty associated with the continuing Brexit negotiations.
“Management envisages that these difficult trading conditions will persists until the outcome of the Brexit negotiations becomes clearer,” the reported stated.
Nisbets said that it was continuing to take “all reasonable steps” to ensure it is well-positioned to trade though the period with the “minimum of disruption” to customers.
In view of the conditions, Nisbets directors stated that they were “pleased” with the performance during the year, which included a 7% increase in gross profits to £148m and a 0.7% rise in gross margin to 37.1% due to better market and product mix.
The Bristol-based company still generates more income than any other UK catering equipment company and ended the year with a profit of £22.4m, compared with £30m the previous year.
Total comprehensive income for the year, which factors in other comprehensive income, such as the change in fair value of financial instruments designated as hedging instruments, meant Nisbets ended 2018 with a net profit of £27.6m, up from £18.7m the year before.
The report added that the company was continuing to lay down the essential foundations for future domestic and international growth as it develops its offer as an international multi-channel distributor.
“The business foresees another 18 months of investment to consolidate its position in the UK market and to exploit opportunities for international expansion,” it added.