BUILDING equipment firm JCB achieved the third most profitable year in its history last year, despite a difficult global construction market.
The 68-year-old Staffordshire-based firm posted earnings before tax down 14.2 per cent to £313m in 2013 on sales which slipped 0.7 per cent to £2.68bn. The firm sold 66,227 machines last year, compared to 69,250 in 2012.
The privately-held company has been hit by the slowdown in the construction industry, particularly in India which is one of JCB’s biggest markets.
JCB chairman Lord Bamford said: “Earnings were adversely affected by a slowdown in emerging markets, notably India, where JCB has a strong presence.”
The firm, noted for its heavy machinery diggers, said growth in the UK, Middle East and Africa during 2013 helped to offset reductions in India, Europe and the Far East.
The firm added that the beginning of the new financial year has been patchy.
Lord Bamford said: “2014 has got off to a mixed start. Some markets are showing improvement, with stronger demand in the more developed markets of the UK and North America, which is offsetting weaker demand in the more fragile economies of Asia, Latin America and Russia.
“Political uncertainty created by elections in India and Brazil is also having an impact on markets.”
The business, which sells machines in over 120 countries, said it would push ahead with its plans for expansion.
A new factory opens in Jaipur in India this month. In the UK the firm will spend £150m later this year to build a 350,000 square foot plant in Uttoxeter, creating 2,500 new jobs by 2018. The business also plans to build another factory in Cheadle.
Lord Bamford added: “The global market for construction equipment was more challenging throughout 2013 but I am delighted that, despite difficult market conditions, JCB delivered a strong performance and achieved the third highest profit in its history.”
JCB dates back to 1945 when it built agricultural tipping trailers.