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Westland Horticulture sees profit in expansion

By John Simpson

WESTLAND Horticulture has a registered address in Belfast, although the business is based in Dungannon and Pomeroy.

The company describes its business as the processing and distribution of products for the gardening and horticulture markets. The recent history of the company is one of expansion, partly by acquisition as well as market expansion, along with a continuing profitable basis.

In April 2012, the company completed the purchase of the company Pet and Aquatics Holdings for £18m. This is reflected in the large increase in spending on capital assets and also in the addition of £5.4m to the balance sheet valuation of intangible assets.

To support the acquisition, by the end of the year, the company had increased its bank borrowing by £12m.

Turnover in 2012, if the newly acquired business is excluded, was lower than in 2011, but with the new bird seed division included, it was 38% higher than in 2011.

The ratio of pre-tax profits to turnover at 6.7% in 2011 fell slightly to 5.9% in 2012.

Employment in the group has been increasing and, on average, in 2012 there were 422 employees; an increase of 31% compared to 2011.

Given the nature of this type of business, the value of stock holdings is high in relation to turnover. At the end of each recent year, stock holdings have been valued at just over 24% of annual turnover.

A feature of 2012 was the decision of the directors for the company to purchase a shareholding from one of the directors, John McVeigh, equivalent to just under 16% of the issued share capital of the business. A consideration of £2.7m was agreed.

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