Revenue and profit took a massive hit at Churchill China in 2020 in what has been described as an ‘extraordinary’ year for the business.
The pottery giant saw revenue fall by more than £31 million during the 12-month period, dropping 46 per cent from £67.5 million in 2019 to £36.4 million.
While pre-tax profit also tumbled from £11.2 million to just £91,000.
Bosses at the Sandyford company say the results are a consequence of the huge challenges faced by the hospitality sector during the pandemic.
But they added that the business is “well-positioned” to respond to the expected increase in demand when bars, restaurants and cafes start to reopen later this year.
In a statement to the London Stock Exchange, chairman Alan McWalter, said: “2020 was an extraordinary year for Churchill bringing many challenges.
“The first two and a half months of the year exemplified the success of our forward strategy delivering record hospitality sales.
“The remainder of the year demonstrated the characteristics of agility, resilience and long-term focus that have always underpinned our approach to business.
“Despite our core hospitality markets being amongst the most affected by Covid, we remained profitable across the year, maintained a strong financial position and continued to invest in and develop our business for the longer term.”
Mr McWalter added: “We acted quickly and decisively to address the short term impacts of the pandemic on our trading and operations, reducing output levels to balance the safety of our employees with lower, but efficient, production and the maintenance of the security of our business.
“We were clear that we wished to continue to invest in our longer term position and as such have continued to prioritise product innovation, distribution development, improvements in our manufacturing capability and in the sustainability of our operations. While our markets have been subdued, we have continued to reinforce our place within them, positioning us well to capitalise on the opportunities ahead.”
Over the last 12 months, Churchill has completed the installation of a more fuel efficient kiln and two small extensions at its Marlborough Way factory – and has started work on a third.
The investments form part of a wider plan by the company to improve efficiency and flexibility.
And this month, Mark Moore has been appointed as non-executive director at Churchill China.
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Mr McWalter said: “Despite the level of government restrictions on worldwide hospitality markets in the fourth quarter of 2020 and the first quarter of 2021, there is now growing evidence from enquiries, order levels and sales that activity levels are recovering across our markets.
“Churchill is a long established resilient business with strong foundations. Whilst we recognise that there may be further volatility and effects from Covid-19 we believe that we are well placed to build momentum in our trading performance throughout the rest of the year.
“The progress demonstrated in the first weeks of 2020, where our hospitality revenues were significantly ahead of the same period in 2019, sets the performance benchmark that our strategy can deliver. Our task now is to return the business to those levels.”
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