Rational’s UK business has crossed the £50m mark again for the first time in two years, its latest financial accounts show.
The company registered a turnover of £50.4m for the 12 months to 31 December 2016, an increase of 3% on the £49.5m it made in 2015, according to its annual report published on Companies House this week.
Back in 2014, it actually achieved sales of £52m in the UK although it is important to note that it benefitted from the government’s Universal Infant Free School Meals initiative, which saw volumes from its school customers double.
The return to sales growth will be seen as an important step for the company, even though total profits for the year slipped slightly from £2m to £1.7m year-on-year.
Bosses said profits were affected by a 0.8% fall in gross margin compared to 2015 as the market became more competitive and pricing became a key focus of end-customer purchasing considerations. It also saw operating costs rise by 5% partly due to the increase in volume and one-off costs associated with the incorporation of sister company Frima UK into the business.
The top-line growth underscores Rational’s UK business as one of the company’s largest markets outside of Germany, where the manufacturer is based. It claims to account for one in every two combi ovens sold in the UK.
The performance was even more impressive given that it suffered a 19% decline in sales from the public sector as a result of what it called “austerity measures”.
Directors at the company said in their report: “Our private sector growth is the key to our long-term strategy and so again we are able to show strong growth, +9% on 2015, coming from all sub-target groups. This was further supported y the launch of the new SelfCooking Center and the SelfCooking Center XS unit, which now allows Rational to expand into other potential sub-target markets such as cafes and coffee houses.”
The company is upbeat about its prospects for further development this year. The directors said: “Due to the dual offer of the SelfCooking Centre, specifically, the XS unit, together with the Frima brand VarioCooking Center, we expect considerable growth. As such, 2017 is considered an investment year wth considerable investment planned in headcount, infrastructure and marketing.”