Belfast Telegraph

Bad weather helps profits grow at fertiliser-selling firm

By Thomas Molloy

Agri-business Origin said full-year profits rose 5.6% last year as unusual weather prompted farmers to buy more services in the UK and Ireland.

Origin, which together with Belfast-based animal feed company W&R Barnett owns agricultural commodity firm R-amp;H Hall, said operating profit increased to €69.7m (£56m) as it sold more services at a higher cost.

Origin sells fertilisers and other products which boost crop production. Sales advanced 6.6% to €1,340m (£1,079m).

Its agri-service division benefitted from unusually difficult farming conditions in the UK.

The first part of the year was very dry but the summer was very wet. This brought challenges to farmers but boosted Origin's sales.

"Sales of agronomy services and strategic inputs during the key second half period were excellent reflecting the benefit of an extended service offering and favourable investment momentum at farm level," said chief executive Tom O'Mahony.

Origin is "the premier provider of total crop management systems in the UK and we are now ideally placed to meet farming's increasing demand for agri-intelligence," he added.

The company said it will hike its dividend by 36% to 15c (12p). Net debt at the end of the period stood at €68m (£55m).