Orchard profits hot up amid search for energy savings

YORKSHIRE energy management consultancy Orchard Energy has seen profits rise by 107 per cent in the past year, thanks to the growing trend towards energy efficiency and overhead reduction.

The Brighouse-based firm saw turnover rise to 1.8m in the year ending September, up 58 per cent on the previous year, despite expansion leading to cost increases.

Managing director Gareth Henderson, who started the business with his wife Rachel in 2004, said staffing costs had risen by 55 per cent last year with the head count of the firm increasing by 17.

A major sales initiative meant outbound telephone costs were up more than 80 per cent with the firm's energy consultants attending almost 900 new business meetings.

Mr Henderson said consistent growth over recent years had allowed for investment at the Brighouse headquarters and the opening of new regional offices in Newcastle at the end of 2009 and Glasgow in 2010.

"We have strengthened all areas of the business in the past year recruiting in sales, administration and finance to ensure we have the right infrastructure in place to support this period of rapid growth," said Mr Henderson.

New areas of business include work with Hull City Football Club, Yorkshire County Cricket Club and other sports venues, and organisations in the tourism, charities and trusts sector with new clients including Jorvik Viking Centre, York Minster, the Baltic in Gateshead, Eureka Children's Museum and Harewood.

"Through our work with charities, trusts and visitor attractions to help them cut their overheads we've developed an understanding of the intricate decision making processes involved in these types of organisations," said Mr Henderson.

"Energy often represents one of their biggest costs but bringing bills down isn't as straightforward as it is with other businesses because lighting and heating can be necessary to create the right ambience."

Growth has been particularly strong in the manufacturing sector where flexible purchasing of energy has helped companies lower their operating costs during recession.

"Manufacturers have been under enormous pressure to balance their books over the last two years and as big consumers of gas and electricity, energy represents a major overhead," said Mr Henderson.

Orchard advises on energy efficiency, carbon management and compliance as well as purchasing energy on behalf of clients.

The firm plans to strengthen its energy solutions team in 2011 offering more comprehensive energy management services, including feasibility studies, energy audits and advice on renewable energy options.