DIRECTORS at Fraserburgh-based Gray & Adams Group, the manufacturer of refrigerated and dry freight vehicles to the transport industry, have cited "very challenging conditions" as the company booked a fall in turnover and profits in its latest financial year.

The family-owned business, which supplies trailers to most of the UK's major supermarket chains, has seen pre-tax profits slide to £3.07 million from £5.2m in the year to April 30, 2013.

The directors said the fall in profits was driven by a 12.5% drop in turnover, which slid to £104.4m from £119.3m the year prior.

However, the accounts show an improvement in the firm's net asset position. Total assets less current liabilities were booked by the firm at £28.4m for the period, up from £27.9m last time.

Gray & Adams, which was established in 1957 and has four manufacturing sites across the UK and Ireland, declined to comment on the accounts when contacted yesterday.

But, writing in accounts newly available at Companies House, director James Gray said: "While 2013 was a very challenging year we fully expect activity levels to recover significantly in 2014."

The company, which has interests overseas but generates the bulk of its turnover in the UK, employed an average of 596 staff over the period, down on the 620 headcount reported for 2012.

A breakdown of roles given shows that 70 staff were employed as directors or office staff, compared with 72 the year before, with 526 engaged in production and distribution roles, down from 548.

Gray & Adams, whose customers include foodservice, haulage and logistics companies, as well as chilled and frozen food distributors, booked staff costs of £22.1m for the period, with wages and salaries coming in at £19.2m. The firm's employment costs last year were £23.4m.

The accounts reveal the company outlayed directors' remuneration of £665,719 for the period, against £675,248 booked in 2012, with the highest-paid receiving £170,844, down from £218,602 the year before.

An interim ordinary dividend amounting to £1.11m was paid, the accounts confirm, though the directors did not recommend the payment of a final dividend.

The firm said it donated £14,197 to a mix of local and national charities last year.