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Improvement is made despite drop in revenue; automotive.

Byline: graeme whitfield

AMAJOR employer in the region's automotive sector said it is making improvements despite a drop in both revenue and profits in its latest accounts.

Unipres - which assembles products for motor giants Nissan, Honda and Renault - boosted headcount at its Sunderland plant to 1,095 during 2015 and significantly increased the amount it exports.

But it also recorded a drop in operating profit to PS11.9m (from PS16.9m the year before) and saw turnover fall from PS199.8m the year before to PS183.8m.

In accounts for the period ending December 31, 2015, the company said the fall in profits was a result of "one-off factors", the most significant of which was linked to changes to its pension scheme.

The company has invested heavily in its Cherry Blossom Way plant in recent years and last year installed two new large presses to help ready it for new orders from Renault.

Company secretary Andrew Fawell said: "In 2015 the company worked to improve performance and stabilise the business.

"The gross profit margin as a percentage of sales was 17% (2014: 17%), with the gross profit per employee PS28,545 (2014: PS31,219).

"The operating profit was 6.5% (2014: 8.5%) and profit for the financial year after tax was 4.8% (2014: 6.0%) which shows a reduction as a result of one-off factors, the most significant of which was in 2014 closing the defined benefit pension scheme which generated a one-off curtailment gain.

"When excluding the impact of these factors, the underlying performance showed improvements against prior year."

A breakdown of sales shows that Unipres boosted exports to the EU from PS6.5m in 2014 to PS27.7m last year, but saw its UK sales fall from PS193.3m to PS156.1m in the same period.

The company's wage bill fell slightly during the accounting period to PS33.9m, despite headcount at the firm rising by six to 1,095.

The remuneration for the highest paid director fell significantly, from PS307,000 to PS178,000.

The firm declared a dividend of 10p per share for the third year running.

In 2015 the company worked to improve performance and stabilise the business

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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Apr 19, 2016
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