In a trading update ahead of its interim results which are expected to be announced on 2 June 2010, the Lincolnshire-based compost company said highlights of the last six months were a £9 million advance payment received for ending peat harvesting at Bolton Fell from Defra, "positive trading in the period contrary to industry reports of weak consumer sales," and mass production of peat substitute material commencing at Freeland Horticulture". Sinclair is now considering further acquistions.
For the six months to 31 March 2010 like-for-like sales of peat-free compost sold under the New Horizon brand increased by 44% compared with the same period last year.
Like-for-like sales of peat-based composts increased by 1% compared with the same period a year earlier. Sinclair says this contrasts with recent reports from industry analysts suggesting consumer demand in the market was down by as much as 15% on Easter of 2009.
The company adds that the peat-free sector of the market will become increasingly important following the announcement by the Environment Secretary on 8 March 2010 about the phase-out of peat in compost material.
Bernard Burns, William Sinclair chief executive, said: 'William Sinclair is best placed within the industry to prosper in this changing market and consolidate our position as the market leader of peat substitute growing media. We look forward postively to the year ahead."