Outbreak of carrot disease hit profits at Fens based firm of Alan Bartlett & Sons (Chatteris) but optimism keynote for future

Alan Bartlett and Sons Limited. Chatteris. Optimism for future as efficiencies and customer satisfac

Alan Bartlett and Sons Limited. Chatteris. Optimism for future as efficiencies and customer satisfaction remain key to prospects. - Credit: Archant

A regional outbreak of carrot disease has been blamed by Alan Bartlett & Sons (Chatteris) for a dip in turnover and profits last year.

In their annual accounts released this week the company shows turnover of £36.6 million for the year to May, 2016 – down by £400,000 on the previous year.

The accounts also reveal the company posting an operating loss of just over £1 million compared to a modest £38,000 profit the year before.

“Turnover decreased slightly compared with last year when production form our own grown crops ceased earlier than anticipated,” says a note in the company accounts.

“Growing crops suffered from a regional outbreak of carrot disease during the year which ultimately affected continuity and yields. As a direct result, current year harvest had to be supplemented towards the end of the year with additional purchases form outside sources.

“This consequently affected profitability for the current year causing the gross profit percentage to fall from 30 per cent to 28 per cent. The reduction in crop acreage also contributed to lower closing stock values at the end of the year.”

However the company says cost saving plans implemented by the group contributed towards a reduction in growing costs during the year.

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Liabilities were up because a director’s loan was included as part of the share capital reorganisation, says the company.

In an optimistic statement of future intentions the company says “that group remains focused on customer satisfaction with consistent product quality and availability”.

Factory processing lines installed in 2016 have achieved further cost savings and improved efficiencies “and the board remains confident its business strategy will enable it to invest and grow capacity for future increased sales and profit”.

The accounts show the company employed 305 staff in the year to May, 2016 – 28 less than the year before.