Macfarlane Group PLC delivered strong growth in 2015 with sales of £169.1m (2014: £153.8m) up 10% on the previous year and profit before tax of £6.8m (2014: £5.6m), 21% up on the previous year. The strong trading performance, which maintained the positive trends achieved in recent years, was achieved through good organic sales growth, the contribution from recent acquisitions, an improved gross margin and effective control of costs.
The Packaging Distribution business increased sales by 13% to £143.0m (2014: £126.9m). This was achieved through organic growth of 6%, with particular success in the expanding internet retail sector and increased penetration of National Accounts. The good organic sales growth was enhanced by the contributions from One Packaging, acquired in August 2015, and the full year contribution from the acquisitions of Lane Packaging and Network Packaging, concluded in 2014. The growth in sales, combined with an improved gross margin, translated into Packaging Distribution achieving a 17% increase in operating profit to £6.8m (2014: £5.8m).
Sales in our Manufacturing Operations at £26.1m (2014: £26.9m) were 3% down on the previous year. This was partly due to management actions to rebalance the mix of products in our Labels business and the impact of exchange rates and demand weakness, particularly in export markets, in our Packaging Manufacture and Design business. Despite the lower sales, the Division increased operating profit to £1.0m (2014: £0.9m) through the benefits of the better balanced product portfolio and improvements in operational efficiency.
After charging interest, the Group profit before tax amounted to £6.8m (2014: £5.6m).
The Board remains committed to providing shareholders with an appropriate return on investment and is proposing a final dividend of 1.29 pence per share, making a full year dividend of 1.82 pence per share, a 10% increase on the prior year's dividend of 1.65 pence per share. Subject to the approval of shareholders at the Annual General Meeting on 10 May 2016, this dividend will be paid on 9 June 2016 to those shareholders on the register at 13 May 2016.