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Company Snapshot: Belleek Pottery Ltd.

Pottery firm is crafting out a reliable business in tough trading conditions

By John Simpson

Fermanagh-based Belleek Pottery operates in an unusual company structure.

It is owned through an immediate parent company registered in Northern Ireland which, in turn, is owned by an Isle of Man registered company, Fossgate.

The business manufactures and sells unique quality pottery products in many international markets as well as directly to customers visiting the tourist friendly workshops in Belleek at the western end of lower Lough Erne.

Belleek Pottery is a significant Northern Ireland business both because it supplies a specialised market and also for the employment offered in its more rural location. In recent years annual turnover has fluctuated from a peak of £8.3m in 2008, falling to just over £7m in 2011 but more recently with a recovery in 2012 to reach £7.6m.

This is still below an annual turnover of £8.7m in 2000-1.

The profit and loss accounts have, in recent years, posted a small operating loss, partly offset by net interest earnings. The company has not registered a pre-tax profit since 2008. In the last five trading years, Belleek has carried increased credit levels, based in large measure on inter-group indebtedness.

Average employment in the company has fluctuated from year to year. It fell to 213 people in 2003-4 and then rose to an average of 263 people in 2007-8. Since then the annual average employment numbers have been nearer to 200 although numbers in 2012, at 215, were higher than the 188 recorded in 2011. A feature of the results as prepared for this company is that the ratio of labour costs to turnover value has, in the last five years, tended to fall from nearly 50% to just over 40%.

The balance sheet value of shareholders' funds, which was £6.7m in 2004, has fallen in more recent years and remained relatively stable at nearly £4.8m.

Since 2008, the company has made no dividend payment to its parent company shareholder.

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