Hull safety specialist Arco has seen sales grow by more than a third through the pandemic.
Continued high demand for PPE to support the Covid-19 response saw record revenues generated.
Turnover hit £390 million in the year to June 30, up 22 per cent on 2020, with the final three months of the previous year taking in the outbreak and contributing to a strong return to growth.
It translated into operating profit of £18.9 million for the firm that has just moved into its purpose-built headquarters on the city’s Fruit Market – up from £10.7 million in 2020.
Having seen a dip in 2019, the 2021 revenue was up 36 per cent on the past five years’ average sales. A “re-base” is, however, anticipated.
David Evison, managing director, said: “During the year, Arco continued to play a key role in supporting the country’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, helping to protect healthcare workers, the emergency services, doctors, nurses and those working in critical industries.
“I’m incredibly proud of our people and the hard work that has gone into ensuring our supply chain could meet the unprecedented demands while also maintaining vigilance on product quality and compliance.
“We continue to play our part in helping to shape the Government’s approach to emergency planning and preparedness, drawing on our expertise and knowledge.
“As a result of our performance, we have been able to complete a number of critical projects in Arco’s investment programme, building a strong and successful business for the future and cementing our commitment to the region.”
More than £800,000 was donated to support communities in which it operates, as well as an additional £3.75 million contribution to the pension scheme.
Bonuses were also paid to all 1,600 colleagues in the year “in recognition of their exceptional commitment”.
Mr Evison said the group investment in a 20,439 sq m extension to its national distribution centre in Hull “proved key in supporting the group’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic” – opening just months before the initial lockdown; with the new offices – opened earlier this year – adapted to support the return of colleagues in a Covid-secure manner. It was delivered to allow the old site to make way for the huge A63 Castle Street works.
A fourth specialist safety centre was also opened in Scotland – at Linlithgow between Grangemouth and Edinburgh – to enhance the proposition, “providing customers with access to a national network of high-class safety training facilities, supported by extensive product expertise and distribution capabilities.”
Looking ahead in the strategic report accompanying the results, Mr Evison said: “The group is well positioned to navigate through the challenges of the coming financial year with a strong balance sheet, a reputation as the expert in safety, the ability to deliver an integrated safety proposition through the specialist safety services team, and a supply chain able to deliver ethical, compliant and high-quality products.
“The first phase investment in digital [a new web platform] came online in 2021 and our position as experts in safety continues to make a difference in a marketplace that has seen a worrying increase in sales of non-compliant products and by inexperienced resellers.
“However, the company expects performance to ease back considerably on the levels of the year and prior year.”