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Brexit won't change the way we do business, says Norbrook boss

By Margaret Canning

Veterinary pharmaceutical giant Norbrook Holdings has said it has no plans to change its business model in the wake of Brexit.

Liam Nagle, chief executive of the Newry-based firm, spoke as the firm reported an 11% increase in sales to £239m, with a focus on pet treatments paying off.

Pre-tax profits were also up 65% from £21.5m to £35.5m, while recurring operating profit was up 60% to £38.5m.

Sales of its treatments for farm animals were up 8% to £197m - but revenue for products to treat companion animals were up 15%, reaching £42m in the year to July 2016.

The company employs around 2,000 people worldwide. Export markets account for 80% of company sales - with sales to the US up 16% and EU sales up 24%.

But Mr Nagle was tight-lipped on the subject of contingency plans for Brexit. "I guess our perspective on access to markets is that there are no specifics for us to act on at this point in time.

"What we want to do is stay close to our customers. A lot of our customers, particularly in Europe, have been with us for a long time. One particular customer has been with us for 46 years - since we were set up.

"We feel that if we have a strong competitive advantage in a particular location, we believe that will likely withstand Brexit. As far as the specifics go, there's nothing for us to react to at the minute and we have no plans to change our model."

Norbrook Holdings announced its results a day after Craigavon pharma firm Almac announced it was opening a support facility in Dundalk to guarantee single market access.

Mr Nagle also said the company had already spent £10m on capital investment, as part of a multi-year £35m programme. "We have over 60 active capital projects across Norbrook and the lion's share is being spent on Newry."

Mr Nagle said sales growth was shared around its markets: "Our perspective is that our growth is coming from all geographies - every single geography has shown growth.

"We have also launched five new products, including two farm animal antibiotic products for the North American market, and three new products for the companion animal market."

Currently, the company's focus was divided between farm animals and companion animals by a ratio of around 80:20 but Mr Nagle said this could shift to around 60:40 in coming years.

Norbrook was founded by the late Eddie Haughey - later Lord Ballyedmond - 46 years ago. He was killed in a helicopter crash in 2014 and his family now owns the company.

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