Andrews Sykes Group chairman Jacques Gaston Murray cited “challenging trading conditions” in Europe as the reason for a £3.4 million (€4.6 milllion) fall in operating profit during 2014.

The company, which rents and sells pumps and temperature control equipment, announced an operating profit for this division of £10.5 million (€14.2 million) compared to £13.5 million (€18.3 million) the previous year.

This almost mirrored the overall group performance, which was down to £11.3 million (€15.3 million) from £14.7 million (€19.9 million). Total revenues were £56.4 million (€76.4 million), a decrease of £4.7 million (€6.2 million). Fleet investment, at £4.4 million (€6 million) was almost unchanged from 2013.

Mr Murray said of the company’s annual results: “The fall in profitability of this business sector was mainly due to two factors. These were a sharp decline in trading in the Benelux region and a disappointing performance from our UK heating business.

“The poor trading performance in Benelux was due to a combination of a decline in the construction sector in the Netherlands and a mild winter throughout the region, which failed to stimulate demand for our heating products.

“This also had an adverse impact on our heating business in the UK which was responsible for the majority of the shortfall in turnover of our main UK trading subsidiary, Andrews Sykes Hire Limited.

“Nevertheless, by the end of 2014, economic trading conditions throughout Europe had improved significantly and weather conditions had returned to seasonal normality. Consequently, we are now able to face 2015 with a more optimistic outlook.“

In other group businesses, the Middle East had a successful year, despite a slight fall in operating profit to £1.5 million (€2 million).

Mr Murray also said the climate rental division, set up in 2012, “continues to expand and returned a positive contribution to the business results”.

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