Belfast Telegraph

Company report: SHS Group

SHS Group is a major Northern Ireland-registered company with offices, warehousing and a distribution centre in Newtownabbey, including a number of well-known trading brands. The group consolidates the trading results of 14 subsidiary companies, in eight of which, SHS holds 100% of the ordinary shares, and a majority shareholding in the others.

In May 2011, the group acquired controlling interests in English-registered Bottle Green Drinks Company and its subsidiaries Bottlegreen Holdings and Woodchester Enterprises.

The group accounts reflect trading in the calendar year although, for accuracy, the annual figures, in the latest results, are for December 31, 2011 to December 28, 2012. The group is principally engaged in marketing, sales and distribution of grocery, confectionery, beverage and pharmaceutical products, as well as in the manufacture of herbs and spices and market research.

In the middle of the last decade, turnover in the group increased sharply after the acquisition of other businesses including the well-known Merrydown business. More recently, turnover fell slightly in 2009 and then fell further in 2010. The reduced turnover in 2010 was attributed to the discontinuation of certain agency brands and a changing sales mix in some subsidiary companies. More recently, in 2011, sales increased significantly, but have again fallen by 9% to £391m in the most recent year.

The group has consistently reported satisfactory profits. In proportion to turnover, operating profits in 2009 and 2010, at just under 5%, were lower than in the middle of the decade. The ratio of profits to turnover improved to 5.7% in 2011, but fell to 4.8% in 2012. Pre-tax profits are closely aligned to operating profits, since net interest charges have been modest.

The group balance sheet shows that there are large minority shareholdings, valued at just over £25m at the end of 2012, out of overall shareholders' funds of £134m. The group has a consistent pattern of annual dividend payments which were over £4m in 2009, increased to cost £7m in 2011 and 2012.

Following large investments in acquisitions in recent years, the consolidated balance sheet carries intangible assets valued at over £66m.

Employment fell by 3% in 2012 to average 688 people, compared to 710 in 2011.

Belfast Telegraph