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I am pleased to report the results for 2017, which reflect a profit for the year of £28.6 million (2016: loss £5.9 million); this includes the previously disclosed exceptional gain on the sale of Duncan Lawrie’s UK asset management business of £19.2 million, about which more is set out in the Chief Financial Officer’s report.

There were no other significant changes to the Group structure in the year; however in line with our strategy and as set out in more detail in the Chief Executive’s report, we made a small acquisition of a packet tea business in India during the year and since the year end we have acquired a majority shareholding in Jing Tea. Jing Tea is a UK based distributor of branded speciality teas to the retail and food service sectors internationally.

In pursuing our strategic objectives, we have decided to sell two of our smaller engineering businesses, BMT (Great Yarmouth) and GU Cutting and Grinding, although the sales have yet to complete. More details are provided in the Chief Executive’s report.

Trading in 2017 was mixed with a weak start being followed by a much better second half. Our tea operations performed well as good yields combined with an improving tea price as the year progressed. However, for the second year running, the macadamia crop was impacted by drought which led to disappointing volumes. Our speciality crops continue to provide an excellent return which once again demonstrates the benefits of our diversified agricultural strategy.

Elsewhere, as previously disclosed, our associate BF&M reported a significant reduction in profitability as a result of the two major hurricanes in September 2017.

Camellia is a business with operations across a number of geographical areas, particularly in emerging markets, all of which are vulnerable to a global political atmosphere which is relatively unstable by recent historical standards. Furthermore, changing weather patterns led to a severe drought in the Cape and Kenya, flooding in Bangladesh and an unprecedented hurricane season in the Caribbean. It is a credit to our staff across the world that they continue to operate successfully in the face of these challenges.


I was delighted to announce the appointment of Gautam Dalal to the Board as a non-executive Director with effect from 1 March. Gautam’s wide experience of the markets in which we operate will be of great benefit to the executive team.


Your Board is recommending a final dividend of 98p per share which, together with the interim dividend already paid of 37p per share, brings the total distribution for the year to 135p per share compared with 130p per share for 2016.


As so much of our result depends on crop volumes in the second half of the year it is not possible to forecast outturns with any degree of confidence. However, early signs of a better macadamia crop, some good prices for tea in the first quarter of 2018 and continuing strength in our UK markets give us reasons to be optimistic at this stage.


As always, my thanks go out to all our staff for their efforts in 2017.

Malcolm Perkins


18 April 2018