Belfast Telegraph

Co Tyrone horticulture firm is confident of growth after trading results

By Margaret Canning

Westland Horticulture, the Co Tyrone firm which makes compost, weedkillers and other garden supplies, had sales of £106.4m during 2014, according to its latest accounts.

The company, which counts Unwins seeds and wild bird feed range Peckish among its products, had pre-tax profits of £5.5m, down from £6.6m during 2013.

Employment numbers grew to 475 during the year, up from 431 in 2013.

The company has been on a rapid growth trajectory in the last few years, with acquisitions of Cranswick Pet Foods, Seramis and William Sinclair taking place since 2012. Its turnover of £106.4m was up £4m from £102.4m during 2013, an increase of nearly 4%.

And Westland said it believed there was room for more growth as new lines are introduced to its ranges, including new fertilizers. The business focuses on processing and distributing products for gardening and horticulture, as well as selling bird seed and similar products.

After-tax profit was £5m, including an exceptional item of £729,747 relating to an impaired loan. And the company said there was also a write-off of £1.9m due to "negative goodwill" from the acquisition of Seramis Gmbh, a company based in Germany which it acquired in 2013. That company's portfolio includes materials for orchid care.

However, the directors said in their strategic report that they regarded the trading results and financial position at the year-end as "satisfactory".

"The directors are satisfied with the results, given the continued economic climate. The directors have plans to ensure the group is strongly placed to retain its market position and continued profitability," said Westland, whose finance director is Scott Dougherty.

"Since the year end, performance to date has been satisfactory."

The company said it was exposed to some foreign exchange risk, mainly due to sales and purchases in euro. It said it uses financial instruments to hedge foreign exchange exposure.

Westland recently acquired English firm William Sinclair Horticulture, for £13.5m out of administration.

Products at William Sinclair, which is based in Lincoln, include J. Arthur Bower's, New Horizon, Growing Success and Deadfast.

The multi-million pound acquisition included trading premises and a manufacturing facility in Ellesmere Port.

In 2012, it acquired Cranswick Pet Foods for £18m.

Westland was at the centre of controversy over the extraction of peat from a site that contained a rare Bronze Age road in the Republic's Midlands last year.

Belfast Telegraph