Stobart’s transport and distribution division saw pre-tax profit rise by £200,000 to £14.3m in the first half, while sales were up from £222.9m to £297.9m.
The sales figures included £54.5m (2012: £nil) from the Autologic business acquired last year and now renamed Automotive.
The group said it had faced considerable demand volatility: “The period started with the coldest spring in many years and was followed by very hot summer weather, leading to significant fluctuations in volumes from our consumer-facing customers.”
Like for like sales at Eddie Stobart were up six per cent. “Our advanced planning systems allow us to continue to operate the fleet efficiently while meeting our customers’ needs during this demanding period. In addition, our proprietary network performance analysis tools allow us to improve efficiency continuously and reduce wasted time.”
The group has been updated the fleet in the Automotive business by introducing new and remounted vehicles as well as introducing detachable semi-trailers.
The semi-trailer is designed to be operated by standard tractor units from the Eddie Stobart fleet which allows it to flex capacity during peaks in demand with UK car registrations in March and September and improve utilisation and profitability. The programme to replace and refresh the old fleet of vehicles is on-going.
The existing Autologic head office in Northampton was closed, with operational management transferred to regional offices.
The first half also saw completion of the discontinuance of the chilled transport pallet network.
Sales for the whole group were up from £247.4m to £330.2m while underlying operating profit rose by £1.2m to £20.9m for the first half.
Andrew Tinkler, chief executive officer, said: “We are on track to deliver value across all of our divisions in line with our strategy. Our market-leading Transport business continues to perform well and our growing Air and Biomass divisions are beginning to deliver on their potential.”
Andrew Wood has become a non-executive director and senior independent director of Stobart Group. He retires as group finance director of BBA Aviation in 2010 and before that was group finance director at Racal Group.
The group also confirmed that Rodney Baker-Bates will step down from the board at the end of the calendar year.