A NORTH Yorkshire nursery recorded a £13.2m turnover despite challenges posed by the pandemic, extreme weather and Brexit.

Johnsons of Whixley's 'remarkable' sales were the second highest in its history, ahead of the company's centenary in 2021.

Group managing director Graham Richardson paid tribute to the hard work and resilience of his staff, who had been 'absolutely determined' to maintain operations in 2020.

The figures, up to the year end on September 30, included the sale of 5.3 million plants, with almost 500 new customers and 11,000 UK deliveries made.

The results follow the 'unique and significant challenges' of 2020, from the slowdown when lockdown began in March, coupled with regular changes in regulation.

Graham said: "Our reaction and determination to follow the rules, coupled with a regimented sanitation regime and a naturally well-ventilated working environment, have so far kept us mostly safe. Our resolve to ensure job security for all by continuing to ship and make much-needed new plants.

“The end result in our season 2019-20 is, in my opinion, more remarkable than the previous year, that witnessed recording-breaking sales of over £14m. Our sales of over £13.2m are our second highest ever. Profitability and cash generation have followed and this creates a great buffer for the remaining challenges of the pandemic and Brexit that lie ahead.”

Graham said Brexit and the pandemic would continue to create issues and were no less significant than the battles they had fought.

“We now face an exit from the European Union which offers little but uncertainty, confusion and increased cost,” he added. “There is a misconception that a deal will remove any potential limitations, and we will be able freely trade with our EU suppliers in an unchanged manner.

"This is not the case; new restrictions and regulations will limit what we can buy, will increase supply timescales significantly and will add between five and 10 per cent to the cost of our plants, which might have a limiting effect on what we sell.”