Agri-services group Origin Enterprises said an operating profit of €1.2m for the six months to the end of January compared favourably to a loss of €2.8m the same time last year. 

Origin said its group revenue for the six month period fell by 5.4% to €572.4m from  €604.9m as it continued to navigate the challenges caused by Covid-19, weaker currencies in some of its markets and Brexit.

The company said it saw a more normalised cropping profile across the group compared to last year's highly unseasonal and prolonged weather conditions which materially impacted its business performance in H1 2020.

It said that despite the unprecedented disruption during the period as a result of Covid-19, its businesses continued to operate effectively, while meeting the needs of the agricultural communities it serves. 

"The uncertainty created by the pandemic continues and in this challenging environment for everyone, the Group's priority remains keeping our employees safe and well," it added.

Origin Enterprises' chief executive officer Sean Coyle said the company's H1 2021 performance sets a positive foundation for the full year, with an encouraging cropping profile across its geographies.

But Sean Coyle added that continued wet and cold conditions in the UK and Ireland have meant that its expectation of 1.7 million hectares for the total winter wheat planted area in the UK is now lower than the 1.8 million hectares anticipated at its Q1 trading update, and may delay the spring application period. 

"That, together with the renewed Covid-19 restrictions across all of our geographies, means that trading uncertainties remain heading into the seasonally more significant second half," he added.

Due to the market challenges and uncertainty caused by Covid-19, Origin's Board had decided that it was "prudent" to suspend the final dividend for FY 20. 

But the company today announced an interim dividend of 3.15 cent per share.

Shares in the company were lower in Dublin trade today.