Lakeland revenues up to £733.6m as merger approaches
Revenues at cross-border dairy firm Lakeland, which collects milk from around 750 Northern Ireland farmers, climbed by 5.3% to £733.6m last year.
The Cavan-based business, which will increase its reach in the province to 1,300 farmers after a merger with LacPatrick, said that the results had been helped by relative stability in global dairy markets.
Group chief executive Michael Hanley said the revenues growth had yielded an operating profit of £15.8m.
"This was driven by strong returns from our three main business divisions, where we were also able to capitalise on our significant economies of scale, benefiting from the significant investments of recent years in technology, automation and lean operation across our processing footprint," he added.
Mr Hanley accepted conditions this year would be affected by "the still uncertain impacts of Brexit and the overall balance of global supply and demand across our product portfolio".
But he stressed: "We will meet any potential headwinds by continuing to ensure complete efficiency and flexibility across all of our operations while at all times paying the highest possible milk price in line with market conditions.
"We will always support milk producers to the maximum possible extent. This will continue to be our commitment in the months and years ahead.
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"Let us re-energise behind the enlarged enterprise of Lakeland Dairies where, based on the collective achievements of co-operation, we will look forward with confidence to the future."
Lakeland owns the Pritchitts dairy processing site in Newtownards, Co Down.
It is merging with LacPatrick, which is based in Monaghan and collects milk from around 600 suppliers in Northern Ireland.
The merger has been approved by shareholder farmers in the two businesses and has also been given the green light by competition authorities in the UK and in the Republic.