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Diss company prepared for Brexit as revenue breaks half a billion

Stephen Fenby, CEO Midwich Ltd. Picture Mark Bullimore
Stephen Fenby, CEO Midwich Ltd. Picture Mark Bullimore

The Midwich Group has reported revenue of £573.7million for the year end 2018 – an increase of more than 20 per cent on last year’s figure of £471.9 million.

The specialist AV distributor, based in Vinces Road, Diss, saw operating profit rise to £24.7 million – up from £20.8million the previous year.

Chief executive Stephen Fenby said the company had been planning for any Brexit outcome for the past six months and well was placed to cope and adapt. Midwich saw an 11 per cent growth in business in the UK and Ireland, and 40 per cent growth in Europe.

“We will work with whatever the outcome is,” said Mr Fenby.

“I am politically neutral on this because our job, as a business, is to deal with the outside world and make the best of it.

“We have planned for different scenarios and what any outcomes might mean for our business.

“We were hoping, like everyone, for an earlier steer, but that didn’t come.”

Group finance director Stephen Lamb said: “A number of our senior management team have been looking into possible scenarios.

Finance director, Stephen Lamb
Finance director, Stephen Lamb

“The key things are, firstly, we operate a local business model in most of our countries, so that will not really change our European business.

“In the UK and Ireland, we carry about 60 days of stock and we think that is enough for any immediate disruption.

“In the event we crash out, the range of World Trade Organisation tariffs is actually relatively low; we think on average about 1.5 per cent. Cars, for example are 10 per cent, so there shouldn’t be a huge impact in terms of price.

“At the moment, we service our Irish business from the UK. We will carry on doing that given the levels of tariffs, but, if it gets worse and there is a disruption, we would expect to see Europe build a supply chain directly into Ireland, and we have warehousing in Europe we could use as a fall back.”

In the UK, underlying growth, with more specialist sales, saw profits grow by 17 per cent. In Europe, including Germany, France, Holland, Belgium, Spain and Portugal, profits grew by just under 36 per cent.

Since end of last year, Midwich has acquired businesses in Switzerland and Italy.

It has also expanded out of Australia, and is moving into the south east Asian market, including Hong Kong, Malaysia and Thailand.

The company employs around 800 staff across the UK, Ireland, Europe and Australasia, with 270 employees based in Diss.

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