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Cuts to solar industry subsidies hit profits at wholesaler Moss Electrical

By Chris Price

An electrical wholesaler which supplies solar panels had its profits decimated after the government removed renewable energy subsidies.

Moss Electrical, headquartered in Dartford since 2008, suffered a 53% decline in turnover to £30.8m after the solar industry was put “on its knees” by cuts to incentives.

Pre-tax profits collapsed by 92% from £2.7m to £207,000 in the year to the end of June as the devaluation of the poundhad “a dramatic inflationary effect” on the products it distributes.

Moss Electrical is based in Dartford
Moss Electrical is based in Dartford

However, bosses hope business will pick up as the company explores opportunities in LED lighting, energy storage and electric vehicles.

Managing director Robert Moss said: “Research and development for the solar manufacturing business remains constant and our interest in this market continues.

“As energy prices continue to rise unabated and it is proven that clean energy has the potential for a major impact, I see no reason why this will not be a major market in the future.

“Energy storage is adding to the solvency of investment, so I believe that there will be a market shift towards this shortly.

"Electric vehicles seem to have taken the market by storm in Scandinavia, and we are looking closely at this market to see if there is a distribution avenue for us.”

Moss Electrical's headquarters in Dartford
Moss Electrical's headquarters in Dartford

Moss Electrical, which was named one of the top 10 fastest-growing private companies in Kent in this year’s MegaGrowth 50, was forced to cut its wage bill to remain profitable.

The firm’s directors took a 57% pay cut, reducing their income from £1.9m to about £833,000, as the company’s wage bill shrank by 30% to £3.2m.

Staff numbers were reduced from about 102 to 94.

The firm managed to grow its gross profit margin to 17.7%, up from 15.5% a year earlier, as operating profits collapsed by 91% from £2.8m to £249,000.

Mr Moss said: “The solar industry is still on its knees and there is little chance that it will pick up in the near future without further government incentives.

Moss Electrical is a wholesaler
Moss Electrical is a wholesaler

“The devaluation of the pound has had a dramatic inflationary effect on the products that we distribute and the rise in the copper price has destabilised quotations that are in place.

“Competition for business has put margins under pressure and the emergence of many internet-based companies, selling on price only, has exacerbated margin deterioration.

“Suppliers are after growth with a vengeance, quoting prices directly to the installer and leaving distributors with a measly margin.”

Mr Moss said the company had installed solar panels two years ago which reduced electricity usage and brought in a “substantial amount” from selling electricity to the grid.

“Having said that, our business rates have now been reassessed, and we now pay another £20,000 per annum for the privilege,” he said.

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