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Waste management firm Augean suffers 50% fall in pre-tax profits as it supports its loss-making incinerator plant in Sandwich

By Chris Price

Waste management business Augean suffered a 50% fall in pre-tax profits to £1.3 million last year as it continued to support its loss-making incinerator plant in Kent.

The company, which looks after radioactive waste in one of its divisions, took a £3.3 million hit on its balance sheet from the site in Sandwich, which recaptures energy and uses it to heat the Discovery Park business estate.

Its high-temperature incinerator, which burns waste for the pharmaceutical and high-tech industries, made an £800,000 operating loss, compared to a loss of £300,000 in 2015.

The Sandwich site of nuclear waste management company Augean

The Sandwich site of nuclear waste management company Augean

It blamed the loss on fixed costs during quiet periods, despite an improvement in the second half of the year and a 12% increase in overall tonnage processed.

Despite the poor performance, bosses said they were committed to running the plant, which employs about 25 people and “remains a key point of differentiation in the pharmaceutical and high-tech market segments”.

The firm, which has 11 sites across the country, increased total revenues by 25% to £76 million.

It grew earnings before taxes, interest and other charges by 17% to £14.1 million.

The Sandwich site of nuclear waste management company Augean

The Sandwich site of nuclear waste management company Augean

This excluded £5.7 million of exceptional charges, including the £3.3 million impairment of its east Kent plant, £1.2 million spent on a trade dispute settlement and £800,000 of fees from its £8.9 million takeover of Colt in May.

It proposed a dividend of 1p per share, up 54%.

Chief executive Dr Stewart Davies said: “At an operational level, the group has achieved a number of key strategic goals including securing further contracts with top-tier customers and a significant increase in air pollution control residue volumes, reaffirming our integrated waste management proposition with our customers.

“We have seen good momentum across our portfolio of businesses and remain well positioned to take advantage of opportunities across a broad number of sectors.

“The group’s cash generation and balance sheet remain robust and the board remains confident of maintaining its track record of year-on-year increases in profitability in 2017.”

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