Digger manufacturer JCB has defied a slump in the construction market to record the highest profits in its 67-year history.
The family-owned company saw its 2012 earnings rise to £365m on turnover which remained virtually unchanged from the previous year at £2.7bn.
Although the Staffordshire-based manufacturer experienced weak construction equipment sales in some areas of the world, it saw business in Africa double and registered growth of 12 per cent in the Middle East.
Announcing the results, JCB chairman Sir Anthony Bamford said: "In view of the continued fragility of the global economy, which has led to renewed slowdowns in emerging and developed markets, JCB's results in 2012 are extremely encouraging.
"They not only demonstrate the resilience of our business, but highlight the importance of continued investment in products, facilities and customer service.
"While construction equipment markets in many parts of the world remained weak, that has been more than offset by strong growth for our agricultural products, particularly in materials handling."
Despite continuing uncertainty, particularly in European economies, 2013 had started satisfactorily, JCB said,
Sir Anthony added: "We are expecting some growth this year but how much will depend on the pace of the global recovery."
Last year's record results eclipsed earnings of £355m in 2011. Figures for sales of machines also rose slightly to 69,250, from 69,100 in 2011, amid a global market which is estimated to have contracted by around 10 per cent.
During 2012, JCB opened a new factory in Sao Paulo, Brazil and announced plans for a new £62m plant in Jaipur, India, which is due to open next year.
And closer to home a report by consultancy Oxford Economics, who were commissioned by JCB, found the firm now supports an estimated 24,000 British jobs and generates around £1.4bn of GDP through contracts in the supply chain, spending by JCB's employees and other economic impacts.
The study said JCB, which has its world HQ in Rocester, Staffordshire, also contributed around £545m to the Exchequer during 2011 – £145m in business taxes paid by the company and income tax paid by JCB employees and a further £400m generated indirectly through the supply chain.
Sir Anthony said: "JCB may be a global company, but first and foremost we're British and we invest heavily in Britain. I'm pleased to see the economy getting a good return on that investment."
Commenting on the study, Sam Moore, director of consulting at Oxford Economics, said: "JCB's focus on manufacturing high value-added products in the UK and exporting to overseas markets makes a huge contribution to the economy, particularly in terms of jobs and tax receipts."