Macfarlane Group PLC increased sales to £153.8m in 2014, a 7% increase on the prior year (2013: £143.9m). The Group grew profit before tax and exceptional items in 2014 by 11% to £5.6m (2013: £5.1m), fuelled by a combination of organic sales growth and targeted acquisitions. This result represented a significant achievement for the Group in competitive market conditions.
The Group's core Packaging Distribution business increased sales by 9% to £126.9m (2013: £116.3m). This was achieved through organic growth of 4%, with particular success in the expanding internet retail sector and increased penetration of National Accounts, and as a result of the successful acquisitions of Lane Packaging and Network Packaging in May and September respectively. This translated into a 16% increase in operating profit before exceptional items for the division to £5.8m (2013: £5.0m).
In the Group's Manufacturing division, the Packaging Design and Manufacture business reported another year of good performance. However, the widely reported challenging conditions being experienced in the UK retail sector impacted on the Group's Labels business. As a consequence, sales in the Manufacturing Division reduced marginally to £26.9m (2013: £27.6m), and lower gross margins in the Labels business resulted in an operating profit before exceptional items of £0.9m (2013: £1.3m).
The Board remains committed to providing shareholders with an appropriate return on their investment and is proposing a final dividend of 1.15 pence per share, making a full year dividend of 1.65 pence per share, a 3% increase on the prior year's dividend of 1.60 pence per share. Subject to the approval of shareholders at the Annual General Meeting on 5 May 2015, this dividend will be paid on 4 June 2015 to those shareholders on the register at 8 May 2015.