Around 60% of the company's total staff – on the finance, marketing and technical side - are currently remote working, but output levels in the production plant and the warehouse are being maintained.
“Our employees on site are working overtime and weekends, as volumes are up significantly. The last couple of weeks we have been working flat out, with the extra hours in place. We are trying to get our subsidiaries and our distributors stocked up. We want to make sure our customers have enough products in case there is more disruption further down the line. We are geared up for this; we already had plenty of raw materials in stock, as we were getting ready for Brexit. We took the view that, with our strong balance sheet, we were in a position to stock up on raw materials,” said Anpario CEO, Richard Edwards.
He has not noted any real supply disruptions to date. “The raw materials are all getting through,” he added.
Freight shipping is running efficiently as well: “There was a squeeze on 20ft containers a couple of weeks ago because a lot of them were stuck in China. But we are not seeing a problem with shipping now. There seems to be enough containers as people are not shipping items like clothes or televisions right now.”
Some of the company’s export and shipping team are on site, others are working remotely.
“That way if someone is on site and they get ill or must be isolated, then we can switch them. Someone who is working from home can come on site. We are operating a shuttle system."
In terms of the production team, they also have a similar contingency strategy in place.
“In the production plant, some employees have already had to isolate because family members were sick or had symptoms. We have a list of key replacement staff, people who work in the marketing, finance or technical departments. For example, our group accountant, who had been presenting to investors last week, has just come off the [factory] night shift, the production line.”
Edwards argues that its robust supply chain, with the majority of its raw materials coming from Europe, makes the company more secure, and less vulnerable to global market volatility, compared to a producer that may rely on cheaper products such as vitamins, minerals or amino acids, from China.
“There could be disruptions down the road but that is why we are trying to get ahead of the COVID-19 curve, ensuring our subsidiaries and distributors are well supplied with finished stock. Our inbound and logistics team are on the phone constantly making sure we are getting the supplies through to meet the production levels we have got.”
He said the logistics team had to deal with an incident a few years back, and that has helped them navigate this crisis. The incident in question was in 2016, when Hanjin Shipping Co., Ltd, a South Korean integrated logistics and container transport company, one of the world’s largest, went bust.
In terms of financial standing, the CEO said strong trading in Latin America and the Middle East and a recovery in sales in Asia helped Anpario increase sales by 3% to £29m (US$35.6m) and gross profit by 7% to £14.5m in its results for the year ended 31 December 2019.
During the year, Anpario Direct’s online channel was launched in the UK to smaller farm customers as well as the equine and pigeon markets. It is the company’s intention to offer Anpario Direct in a number of other geographic markets this year.
“Costs continue to be managed closely and sales of our three main product ranges, phytogenics, mycotoxin binders and acid-based eubiotics, grew as product brands such as Orego-Stim, Anpro and pHorce became more widely adopted by customers,” said Edwards. “Investing and developing our existing business around the world remains a priority, as does finding an earnings-enhancing and complementary acquisition.”