DIGGER firm JCB achieved its third most profitable year in its 68-year history in 2013.
The company, which has plants in Cheadle, Uttoxeter and Rocester, and employs people from across the Staffordshire Moorlands, reported it sold 66,227 machines over the year, slightly down on 2013.
Its turnover was £2.58 billion, with earnings – before tax, interest and depreciation – at £313 million.
JCB Chairman Lord Bamford said: "The global market for construction equipment was more challenging throughout 2013, but I am delighted that, despite difficult market conditions, JCB delivered a strong performance and achieved the third highest profit in its history.
"Turnover remained virtually unchanged year-on-year, but volume and earnings were adversely affected by a slowdown in emerging markets, notably India, where JCB has a strong presence.
"This was further compounded by adverse currency movements in some economies.
"Turnover growth in the UK, Middle East and Africa during 2013 helped to offset reductions in India, Europe and the Far East.
"2014 has got off to a mixed start. Some markets are showing improvement, with stronger demand in the more developed markets of the UK and North America, which is offsetting weaker demand in the more fragile economies of Asia, Latin America and Russia.
"Political uncertainty created by elections in India and Brazil is also having an impact on markets."
JCB is forging ahead with long-term plans to increase capacity globally, with the company's latest Indian plant in Jaipur starting production in May.
In the UK, planning permission has been granted for a new JCB Cab Systems factory in Uttoxeter, which forms part of the business's £150 million expansion plans.
It also expects to build a 220,000 sq ft factory on the Harewood Industrial Estate in Cheadle.
Overall in Staffordshire, JCB expects to create an additional 2,500 jobs by 2018.
Chief Executive Graeme Macdonald said: "We continue to take a long-term view on investment.
"For our products made here in the UK, we are seeing a surge in demand.
"We will be making big investments in new products, as innovation is a key part of the business, and that means investing in engineering skills."
Domestic sales made up 17 per cent of turnover last year.
The firm has recruited an extra 400 workers in Staffordshire this year.