Agricultural Central Trading (ACT) the Chesham, Buckinghamshire-based supplies co-operative has reported a lower turnover and surplus from its latest full year, in line with reduced demand for feeds and fertilisers in the period.

The business made a pre-tax trading profit of £713,000 on a turnover of £102 million in the year ended June 30th 2020 compared to £1.07m and £116m in the previous year. It will be returning £448,000 to ACT shareholders as trading bonuses (£637,000 in 2019).

The prolonged wet weather experienced from late summer 2019 to early spring 2020 “had a dramatic effect” on input demand, particularly for the arable sector, reports the company. However, a “really strong” final quarter helped to offset much of the damage.

Full year fertiliser volumes were down due to the wet autumn, but other sectors of the business such as maize seed, animal health and crop packaging saw record sales. While animal feed sales were down year-on-year, this was after an exceptional 2018/19 when the very hot, dry summer weather reduced forage harvests and led to an increase in supplementary feed demand.

The company also incurred “significant” one-off costs through the move of its accounting functions to the Shrewsbury office, as part of the planned closure of the head office at Chesham. “This unfortunately saw many very long-standing employees made redundant, but the cost-savings from this move will be significant over the next two years,” says ACT managing director John Hamilton.

Looking ahead, Mr Hamilton reports that first quarter results to September 30th 2020 are much stronger than for the same period of the prior year. “We look forward to a positive result at the year-end, subject to continued political uncertainty and the usual vagaries of the British weather,” he concludes.