Norwich firm eyes return to solar panels market
14:12 19 December 2012
Norwich-based Anglian Home Improvements is planning a return to the solar panels market in the new year as the firm celebrates a 25pc increase in conservatory sales.
The firm previously pulled out of the sector following the coalition government’s decision to cut subsidies available for feed-in tariffs.
However Peter Mottershead, chief executive of the group, which is ranked 14th in the EDP Top 100, said the company was making plans for a return to the market in the new year, though this would be on the sales side and not manufacturing.
The move comes as the firm has also carried out a refurbishment of its conservatory showrooms after doubling its capital investment to £3.7m, which includes the opening of a new site in Cromer Road, Norwich, next year.
However, unveiling its results for the year end to March 31, 2012, the group said that 2011 had been a challenging year for the firm with turnover falling from £210.1m to £203.4m, while pre-tax profits for the group fell from £14.5m to £6.1m.
But the directors’ report noted that this had been offset by a “very encouraging period” in the first half of 2012 with orders up significantly.
“As a consequence, the group currently has a strong pipeline of committed orders and looks set to have another successful year in 2012/13,” the report said.
Mr Mottershead said despite the tough times through 2011, the business had been encouraged by the growth of conservatory sales which he said reflected the extra capital investment and the impact of a marketing campaign last year. The firm, which employs more than 1,000 staff had also taken on 40 temporary staff over Christmas and had also invested in iPad technology for staff.
“The overall market is down by about 15pc in some of our core segments,” he said. “When you look at the market that was quite challenging and we had to make some key decisions into how we were going to invest our energies.
“The first nine months was difficult to generate business because the market was quiet, but since January the business has boomed. We are in a much stronger position now than we have ever been. In 2008 our debt was £62.5m, now it is £22.8m.
“The market this year and last year hasn’t changed particularly, so to get 25pc growth is pretty significant and reflects what we have done.
“That investment has seen a significant return. Our conservatory sales have increased dramatically. We have seen a 25pc increase,” he added. “It gives us a massive opportunity to really position ourselves properly in Norwich, which is obviously our home base. If you look at how successful Anglian has been, there’s no reason why we can’t get that market share.”