The Macfarlane Board is proposing a final dividend of 1.76 pence per share, amounting to a full year dividend of 2.45 pence per share, a 7% increase on the prior year's dividend of 2.30 pence per share. Subject to the approval of shareholders at the Annual General Meeting on Tuesday 12 May 2020, this dividend will be paid on Thursday 4 June 2020 to those shareholders on the register at Friday 15 May 2020.
Other financial highlights include:
Macfarlane Group PLC achieved sales of £225.4m in 2019, (2018: £217.3m) a 4% increase on 2018, with 2019 profit before tax growing to £12.0m (2018: £10.9m), 10% ahead of 2018. This marks the tenth consecutive year of profit growth. The performance in 2019 was in line with market expectations and was achieved against a well-publicised backdrop of economic uncertainty reion increased sales by 4% in 2019 to £196.7m (2018: £189.8m). Sales revenue from existing customers was impacted by both weaker demand and sales price deflation during 2019 but this was offset by good growth in new business and the benefit of £5.7m from acquisitions. The 2019 acquisitions of Ecopac (U.K.) Limited ("Ecopac") and Leyland Packaging Company (Lancs) Limited ("Leyland") have both performed well since acquisition. Gross margin in Packaging Distribution at 31.1% showed improvement on the prior year (2018: 29.4%) and reflected effective management of input price movements. The growth in sales and gross margin, combined with good cost control, resulted in Packaging Distribution achieving an 11% increase in operating profit before exceptional items to £12.4m (2018: £11.2m) after the impact of IFRS 16 "Leases".
Sales in Manufacturing Operations at £28.7m (2018: £27.5m) grew by 4% on the previous year. Gross margin increased to 39.8% in 2018 compared to 38.4% in 2018 and operating profit before exceptional items in 2019 increased to £1.2m (2018: £0.8m) after the impact of IFRS 16 "Leases".
After net finance costs of £1.6m (2018: £0.8m), Group profit before tax totalled £12.0m, an increase of 10% on 2018. Basic and diluted earnings per share for 2019 were 6.17p (2018: 5.55p) and 6.16p (2018: 5.55p) respectively.sulting in weaker demand.