THE parent company of upmarket paint and wallpaper brand Farrow & Ball has posted a loss.

But Ferndown-based FB Ammonite Limited said it was geared up for “continued growth and profitability” despite economic “headwinds” and the “continued uncertainty surrounding Brexit”.

FB Ammonite, which has loans to service, made a pre-tax loss of £26.6million in the year ended March 31 2019, up from £26.5m the year before, although turnover grew 1.2 per cent to £83.5m.

Farrow & Ball itself had a turnover of £73.9m and made a profit of £14.7m, down from £15.9m.

In the UK, which accounts for 61 per cent of sales, the problems at Homebase led to the loss of 43 stores selling Farrow & Ball products, its chief executive Anthony Davey wrote.

“Moreover, continued pressures on traditional bricks-and-mortar retailing and a relatively soft housing market in the UK have created unfavourable market conditions,” he added.

He said the company had attracted press and consumer interest after adding nine colours to the brand’s palette. It had upgraded its enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, which had improved business development “after some initial disruption”.

A new website helped the company to an 11 per cent rise in web sales, which now make up 9.2 per cent of group sales compared with 8.2 per cent the previous year. The business grew one per cent in Europe and four per cent in the rest of the world.

However, the rising cost of raw materials and investment in products and innovation led to a 1.5 per cent drop in gross profit margin, despite a 39 per cent reduction in administrative expenses.

“For the forthcoming year, despite the current macroeconomic headwinds and continued uncertainty surrounding Brexit, the directors expect a pipeline of developments to support continued growth and profitability,” Mr Davey wrote in his strategic report.

He said the 2019-20 financial year had started strongly, with good positive Easter trading and the launch of a new range of metallic wallpapers.

“Our plans for the year include a campaign to reinforce our eco-friendly credentials,” he said.