Cumbrian agricultural and engineering company Carr’s Group says it remains confident in the medium term despite uncertainty around future trading relations with the EU.

In a trading update for the 18-week period ended January 5, the Carlisle-headquartered group said it had made a strong start to the year and was trading in line with expectations despite increasing uncertainty due to Brexit.

Carr’s Group chief executive Tim Davies, called for greater clarity over future trading relations with MP expected to vote on Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plan next Tuesday.

“Whilst some clarity has been provided over the government's future policy on farming support, Brexit uncertainty remains for our customers and certain supply chains within which we operate,” he said.

“Further clarity over the UK's future trading relationship with the EU would bring greater confidence and stability back to our customers and marketplace although the Group remains confident that it is well placed in the medium term.”

Mr Davis added: "The new financial year has started well with trading in line with the Board's overall expectations. 

“We remain confident that the investments made in acquisitions, research and product innovation leave the Group well positioned for future growth.”

In the statement, Carr’s Group said its agricultural activities in the UK had been positive despite subdued demand for oil and some health products and supplements due to a mild autumn.

Feedblock sales in the US had started “strongly” and the integration of the Animax Limited, acquired in September 2018, was progressing well, it said.

Meanwhile, its engineering division had received a boost thanks to a $8.5m contract in the United States and the news that the Department of Energy had awarded “significant funding” to develop its passive cooling technology, which has potential to be retrofitted on existing nuclear power plants.

Overall, the group said its financial remained strong, with an £8.5 million increase in net debt between September 1 and December 1 put down to the acquisition of Animax and “usual seasonal working capital movements”.

“We continue to review suitable acquisition opportunities whilst investing in the group's existing businesses both in the UK and overseas,” the statement concluded, with the group’s board due to approve a final dividend of 2.35p per share for the year ended September 1, 2018.