Fowler Welch outlook “encouraging”

Spalding, Lincs, UK: Dart Group chairman Philip Meeson has said the outlook for Fowler Welch is “encouraging” despite the fact that the marketplace remains extremely competitive and price focused.

In the company’s interim report for the six months ended 30 September 2011, Meeson said that Fowler Welch’s growing presence in the ambient arena along with its commitment to operational excellence and its national network coverage, put it in a good position for future growth.

“The Distribution business is in a strong position to capitalise on its significant pipeline of ambient sales opportunities,” said the report.

In May 2010, the Group completed the purchase of a 50,000 pallet, freehold distribution centre in Heywood, Greater Manchester “the Hub” which is now operating at break-even and offers significant potential for further growth.

In June 2011, a distribution centre was opened in Newton Abbot, Devon, initially dedicated to serving Tesco Express stores, similar to the company’s operations in Washington, Tyne and Wear. This was implemented on time and within budget. The company intends to build further its business in the South West over the coming months.

Overall, revenues at Fowler Welch are up 5% year on year, despite a planned reduction in container activity, with strong growth in Washington (Tyne & Wear), the Netherlands and the South Coast. Operating margins are below last year principally as a result of further investment in the growth of the Fowler Welch network and operating infrastructure.