Belfast Telegraph

Molasses and animal feed firm reports turnover of over £800m

By Margaret Canning

W&R Barnett, one of Northern Ireland's oldest and most profitable family businesses, has reported a turnover of £815m in its latest results.

The group company, which has interests in the trading of grains and molasses, as well as making animal feeds and breeding horses, saw revenue fall from £948m during the year to July 31, 2015.

Pre-tax profits were also down 6% from £31.8m to £29.8m. 

But the company, which also operates its own dockside facilities at Belfast Harbour, said the level of profits was "satisfactory".

The figures relating to the year ending July 31, 2014 are "restated" at higher levels in the more recent accounts.

And in November, the group - which currently employs 512 people - acquired a corrugated packaging business in England.

The Logson Group, which is headquartered in Coalville in Leicestershire, employs over 850 people and turns over £185m annually.

In a strategic report accompanying the latest results filed at Companies House, W&R Barnett's directors said: "The directors consider that both the level of business during the year and the financial position at the year end were satisfactory.

"The group will continue to invest in people, product development, facilities and suitable developments in order to ensure its ongoing development."

The report said its main business risks arose from foreign exchange fluctuations, the commodity markets and customer credit. WR Barnett, which also controls BHH (formerly Barnett Hall Holdings), R&H Hall and animal feed company John Thompson & Sons, a subsidiary of BHH, was founded in the 1920s and is still run by the Barnett family.

In 2010, the group paid over £71m to buy the United Molasses businesses from then owners, Tate and Lyle.

That deal turned W&R Barnett into a global trader, active in Western Europe, Asia and Central America. It is now buying, shipping and selling vessels of molasses around the world for use in yeast, rum, lysine, mono-sodium glutamate and steel production.

The family has also created a long-lasting legacy for Belfast. In 1946 William Barnett, the co-founder of the company, bequeathed his house and grounds close to Shaws Bridge in the south of the city to Belfast Corporation.

He was also a keen horse breeder, and his horse, Trigo, was the winner of the 1929 Derby. While the house is now known as Malone House, the grounds are still known as Barnett Demesne.

Economist John Simpson, who compiles the Belfast Telegraph's annual Top 100 Companies, has described W&R Barnett as "one of the most profitable and successful family-controlled businesses" in Northern Ireland.

Find out where W&R Barnett is placed in the Belfast Telegraph Top 100 Companies 2016 in association with Arthur Cox next Tuesday

Belfast Telegraph