Carlisle-based aviation, energy and transport firm Stobart Group — which has been consumed by a lengthy boardroom battle — said on Wednesday it made a loss after taxation of £17.5 million for the six months to August 31, 2018 compared to a profit of £112 million for the same period of 2017.
The 2017 profit included £123.8 million from the partial disposal of Eddie Stobart Logistics — and the 2018 loss includes investment in London Southend Airport route development and marketing of £18 million.
Revenue for the six months to August 31, 2018, grew 21.4% to £151.3 million.
London Southend Airport passengers rose 37% to 838,742.
Stobart Group said it returned £34.7 million to shareholders in the first half, including dividends paid of £31.3 million.
The group’s net debt has increased to £75.6 million from £36.6 million.
“Stobart has made strong commercial progress during the period in its core operating businesses,” said the firm.
“Stobart Aviation and Stobart Energy are both well-invested and set for significant growth.
“The group has also moved quickly to advance the steps it outlined following the AGM to strengthen the commercial management and governance of the group.”
Amid its ongoing troubles, Stobart Group said it appointed Alice Mayhew, a senior employment barrister at Devereux Chambers, to carry out an independent investigation into the concerns raised by certain employees regarding alleged bullying and whistleblowing.
“This investigation was completed on 18 October 2018 and concluded that there is no culture of bullying within Stobart Group,” said the firm.
“Interviewees did not report having been bullied or subjected to undue pressure or having witnessed bullying or undue pressure being placed on others.
“The report made recommendations, and the company is currently reviewing how best to incorporate these.”
Stobart Group CEO Warwick Brady said: “We have remained focused on operational progress in our aviation and energy divisions, which have both performed well in the period.
“Having invested in the infrastructure for these divisions, we are now well placed to accelerate our commercial growth plans and demonstrate the value of the group’s excellent operating businesses.”