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Northern Ireland building supply firm sees strong rise in profits

By John Mulgrew

Building supplies giant Haldane Fisher has grown its turnover to more than £50m while profits are up 50%, but warned about the impact of Brexit on business.

According to accounts for Haldane Fisher Limited, the company saw its profits before tax increase by 50% - rising from to £2.32m from £1.56m a year earlier.

It has 10 branches across Northern Ireland as well as several in Great Britain.

And accounts for its parent firm, Haldane Shiells and Company Limited, showed the overall business, including its UK operations, saw a rise in turnover to £89m.

The company's directors stated in the Haldane Fisher Limited accounts that 2015 had been a "challenging year but with the potential for growth in both Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland".

It said it aims to build on its years of experience in order to help the firm grow.

Speaking about the sector in general, Haldane Fisher said: "Northern Ireland is moving in the right direction and business has started to improve in areas in the Republic of Ireland" as banks are offering more support for builders and developers.

"The market is reasonably competitive and developments under construction should progress in 2016."

But it warned that while "moderate growth" is expected across the sector this year, "volatility in foreign exchange rates presents a risk" and that the Brexit result has "created uncertainty that may delay investment".

Turnover increased in the space of a year to £51.35m. That was up from £48.99m in 2014.

Overall, staff costs at the business also increased during the course of the year, rising to £6.45m.

And Haldane Fisher's workforce also grew, up from 292 staff to 315 in 2015.

Haldane Fisher has a number of stores across Northern Ireland, including a large base at Newry along with two in Belfast and two in Portadown, as well as outlets in Ballymena and Larne.

The firm's diverse range of interests include importing and machining of timber and the provision of building and plumbing materials.

The business sells a variety of high-spec bathroom suites, kitchens, as well as flooring, doors and a wide range of garden decking, furniture and paving.

The company's results come as UK builders' merchants Travis Perkins said in a second-quarter update that it was suffering from weaker demand as a result of the EU referendum.

However, it cautioned that it is still too early to say what the full impact will be.

Belfast Telegraph