Agri-services group Origin Enterprises said it expects a return to growth in operating profit for the full year.

In a trading update ahead of its AGM today, the group said its first quarter revenue was down 14.3% on the same time last year after a slow start to trading in the seasonally quiet first quarter of its financial year.

Origin Enterprises said its Ireland and UK operations saw a decrease in underlying agronomy services and crop input volumes of 3.3% in the three month period. 

It said that a delayed harvest contributed to the ongoing reduction in the area of oil seed rape planted in the UK, with plantings expected to be down 12.2% on the prior year at 0.3 million hectares. 

Planting of winter wheat is ahead of the same point last year, but not as progressed as the year before, it added.

The company's Continental Europe operations also recorded an underlying volume reduction in agronomy services and crop inputs, excluding crop marketing volumes, of 7.0% in the three months to the end of October. 

It noted a good start to the year across the segment, although prolonged dry ground conditions moderately impacted plantings in Romania and Ukraine.

Meanwhile, its Latin America operations delivered a satisfactory contribution in the period, recording an underlying increase in agronomy services and crop input volumes (excluding crop marketing volumes) of 25.1%.

Origin Enterprises said it continues to closely monitor Covid-19 developments. 

"The group's agricultural supply chain businesses continue to implement a range of measures across each location to ensure a safe environment for all stakeholders, while maintaining essential services to the agriculture sector," it stated.

Looking ahead, the company said that with the normalisation of crop plantings after an extremely challenging weather year in FY20, it expects improved agronomy services and crop input volumes and a return to operating profit growth in FY21. 

But it cautioned that weaker emerging market currencies, the continued possibility of Brexit without a trade deal on 31 December and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic still represent challenges for the group.

"Our scalable business model, diversified market positions, prudent risk management and capital allocation strategy, leave us well positioned to address these challenges," it added.

Shares in the company moved higher in Dublin trade today.