The chief executive of a major Cumbrian group of businesses has announced he is preparing to stand down.

Tim Davies is to step down from the role at Carr's Group, which has its head office in Carlisle, but will remain in post until a successor is appointed.

Carr's Group runs a network of country stores selling farm equipment, as well as supplying animal feed and supplements across the globe and fuel for heating and vehicles in northern England and southern Scotland.

Its engineering division designs and manufactures bespoke equipment and provides technical engineering services into the nuclear, oil and gas, pharmaceutical, process and renewable energy industries, including robotic and remote handling equipment.

The group has 1300 staff working across the world, with seven factories in the United States and two engineering sites.

It also has a feed block and an engineering factory in Germany.

Prior to making the move to Carr’s nearly eight years ago, Tim worked at ICI and at Openfield Agriculture.

He said he had enjoyed his time at the company but was looking forward to having more time and stepping back from being in an executive role.

“I want to leave in good health,” said Tim, who lives near Carlisle.

“It’s a fantastic place to work and with a great team of managers.

“I want to enjoy having a bit more time and I’ve got loads of interests.

“I will definitely be staying around here, it’s a great place to live.”

He said during his time at the company one of the key changes had been the growth of its engineering division, including the acquisition of Barrow-based NW Total and US-based NuVision.

“In 2016 we also sold the food division which was a major move and a huge decision,” he said.

“But also there has been expansion of the agricultural division at home and abroad.

"Last year nearly 58 per cent of our profits were generated outside of the UK and growth internationally has been really important to give the company that broader balance.”

He said following the coronavirus crisis only a handful of the group's staff remained on furlough due to health reasons.

“Obviously Covid isn’t over but so far we’ve done really well,” he said.

“Cash has been good, business has generally been very good.”

Although the effect on the oil and gas industry had had a knock-on impact on Carr’s engineering division, places such as Sellafield and BAE were beginning to get back to work which was getting the division moving again.

“Agriculture has been a key industry and so we kept working all the way through both in the States and in the UK,” he said.

“With engineering it has just slowed everything up .

"A lot of our projects are quite complex and international and international travel has been tough, it’s just made it harder work getting business done.”

He said the key challenges on the horizon for the group were the ongoing uncertainty over coronavirus and the result of the Government negotiations on a future trading deal with the European Union.

“It’s going to be about supply and demand and Carr’s is well-positioned because the majority of our engineering work is related to decommissioning and clean up,” he said.

“They have to be done and carried out across the world.

"From an agriculture point of view what has become clear during the Covid crisis is that food is really important and so we’re in a great place there.”

He said the company had done a lot of preparation ahead of Brexit, including setting up an Irish company so it could operate there successfully.

“It’s understanding where the risks lie - is it the sheep and lamb, is it dairy - but we think it’s beef and sheep where the main focus will be through the end of transition,” he said.

“The good news for agriculture is the commitment from the Government for the payment support to carry on at the same level through the length of this Parliament and that gives farmers time to adapt and change.

"What we’ve also seen through Covid and the Brexit situation is that farmers really are quite adaptable and we’ve got to do the same.

"We are adapting our business model to work in different ways and I think we’re in a good position.”

Chairman Peter Page said: "I would like to thank Tim for his enormous contribution over the last seven years. He has led the group with passion and integrity, developing its international focus and a strong organisational culture."