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Turnover reaches £95.3m at drinks wholesaler McCabe's

By Margaret Canning

Wholesale drinks company James E McCabe - part of one of Northern Ireland's biggest hospitality groups - has reported increased pre-tax profits and turnover for 2015.

It belongs to a group of businesses best-known for pubs and restaurants such as south Belfast's Chelsea Wine Bar and Cutters Wharf and nightclub Alibi.

Craigavon-based James E McCabe Ltd, which also runs convenience stores, reported sales of £95.3m, up from 1.7% from £93.7m a year earlier.

Pre-tax profits were up 26% from £1.9m to £2.4m, while employee numbers also increased from 533 to 549.

And the business's sister retail company Winemark the Wine Merchants Ltd reported a 2.7% increase in sales from £18.6m to £19.1m.

However, pre-tax profits at the chain of around 80 off-licences were down 9% from £539,556 to £491,632.

Meanwhile, Belfast-based Golf Holdings, the holding company behind James E McCabe Ltd and other subsidiaries, reported a 60% jump in pre-tax profits to £636,000 for 2015.

Other subsidiaries include Wine Inns and Philip Russell Ltd Group.

In the year to the end of December, Golf Holdings bought back £1m of share capital with an associated £9m reduction in the share premium account.

A strategic report accompanying the results said: "Whilst the directors expect a difficult trading year ahead, they will continue to seek every opportunity to increase profitability where possible."

The business's assets decreased by £526,262, while liabilities increased by £9.36m.

That led to a decrease in net assets of £9.9m - reflecting the share capital buyback.

The strategic report added that the company faced risks and uncertainties including competition from other wholesalers and licensed premises, as well as the risk of a downturn to the Northern Ireland economy and its potential impact on consumer confidence.

Wine Inns, meanwhile, reported a fall in turnover from £14m to £13m, while pre-tax profits were £54,569 - a turnaround on losses of £326,524 a year earlier.

A strategic report for Wine Inns said the company "experienced a challenging year in difficult economic conditions" during 2015.

But the performance of Philip Russell Ltd - a wholesale and retail distributor of wines, spirits, drinks and pet food products - was expressed more positively in its accounts.

The strategic report said the group had "an encouraging year in difficult economic conditions".

Turnover was £77.7m, down 3.6% from £80.6m in 2014. Employee numbers fell from 256 to 248. Pre-tax profits were up 64% to £1.8m.

Philip Russell Ltd also has an 82% share in Frozen Yogurt for Pets Ltd.

In June, Wine Inns put its east Belfast pub and restaurant the Elk on the market for £700,000.

Last year it sold off its Crescent Townhouse in Belfast's Botanic Avenue and sold its Holywood wine bar Wine & Co in 2013. The Chelsea on Lisburn Road was refurbished that same year at a cost of around £1m.

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