Macfarlane appoints new chair

By Max Goldbart, Monday 20 November 2017

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Macfarlane Group has appointed Stuart Paterson as its new chairman and provided a positive trading update for its Q3 performance, prior to the announcement of its annual results.

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Paterson: A "privilege" to take on the chairman role

Paterson started on 29 September, replacing Graeme Bissett, following a recruitment process during which the Macfarlane board considered both internal and external candidates. 

Previously Johnston Press chief financial officer, Paterson joined the Macfarlane board in January 2013 as chairman of its audit committee and a member of the remuneration and nominations committees. He is due to retire from his position as Forth Ports financial director by the end of 2017. 

Paterson said: “Graeme [Bissett] has been an extremely effective leader for his fellow board members. It is my privilege to take on the chairman role at Macfarlane Group and I look forward to building on his excellent work.”

In its interim results, Macfarlane said that the momentum achieved in the first half of the year was continuing, with improving growth and continuing benefit from acquisitions, and sales in its packaging distribution division are up 11% on the same period last year. 

Paterson said that he was pleased to report on successful second-half group performance.

It is aiming for sales of £197m (2016: £180m) and operating profit of £11.8m (2016: £9.8m), which would represent an increase of 9.4% and 20.4% respectively, with long-term ambitions remaining to hit £300m sales and £20m net profit by 2020. 

Chief executive Peter Atkinson said: “The current performance is very pleasing and we are making encouraging progress. In reality it’s all about the strategy we created around four years ago and we’re seeing that going through in terms of the benefits of acquisitions we’ve made.” 

Atkinson hailed the strength of the packaging distribution division and said it represented what had been a good year for packaging in general. 

“Certainly the suppliers that we buy from, the DS Smiths and the Smurfits, all appear to be having strong years, with very full order books,” he added. 

Continuing with its strategy of acquisition, in September Macfarlane acquired Nottinghamshire-based Greenwoods Stock Boxes (GSB), while last year it purchased Colton Packaging Teeside, Glasgow-based Edward McNeil and Leicester-based Nelsons for Cartons.

Macfarlane also said that while its manufacturing division revenues are 3% down on last year, this is reflective of a focus on higher margin sales and earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) is still expected to improve. 

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