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Marked contrast in the fortunes of Northern Ireland pharma giants

Almac profits down by more than a third, while Norbrook shows increase

By Jamie Stinson

Published 05/05/2015

Chief executive at Norbrook, Liam Nagle
Chief executive at Norbrook, Liam Nagle

Northern Ireland's pharmaceutical giants Almac and Norbrook, which span animal and human health, saw contrasting fortunes in 2014, latest accounts have shown.

Craigavon-based Almac Group, which carries out pharmaceutical contract development and manufacturing, saw pre-tax profits fall by more than a third in 2014, despite a rise in turnover.

Conversely, Norbrook Holdings saw profits rise but turnover fall last year.

The Newry-based animal health firm saw turnover in the 12 months to August 1 2014 fall by 2% to £198.8m down from £202.5m. However, there was an increase in pre-tax profits to £22.2m in 2014, up from £20.7m the previous year. In the 12-month period employee numbers rose to 2,045, up from 1,892 in 2013.

Almac, which employs 3,297 across the group, saw turnover rise from £325.3m in 2013 to £341.6m last year, but the rate at which turnover rose was down from 8.5% to 5% in 2014. Pre-tax profits dropped from £19.2m to £12.6m last year.

The firm said one of the causes for the fall in profits was down to consolidating a loss-making subsidiary, Almac Sciences (Scotland) into the group.

In the company accounts Almac director Kevin Stephens said: "This company was brought into the Almac Group on March 31, 2014, with significant historical losses arising primarily from its ongoing research and development activities."

Mr Stephens added that the main cause in the decline of profits was down to a $9m (£5.9m) licensing fee. "The decrease in the profit before tax figure from the previous year is primarily due to the September 30, 2013, figures including a $9m up-front receipt in relation to outlicensing of an oncology-related test from our research and development activities."

Liam Nagle, chief executive at Norbrook, said its results were been as expected. "The board and senior management team are pleased with the 2014 results which were in line with our expectations. Norbrook is well positioned to capitalise on a number of exciting commercial opportunities in local, national and international markets, and we have a number of further product launches planned later in year."

"We are confident that the strategy being implemented will support the continued growth in revenue and earnings that has been demonstrated over the past five years. Norbrook has a strong pipeline of new products under development and the directors are confident that this, along with additional planned investment, will continue the positive momentum of the business."

Economist John Simpson said were major players in the economy. "Almac and Norbrook are two major pathbreakers in the area of modern medical and veterinary technology. They are very established and major employers in Northern Ireland, and one would hope they can go on expanding as time goes by."

Belfast Telegraph

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