Belfast Telegraph

Pre-tax profits slump at Co Armagh food company

By John Mulgrew

A Co Armagh food firm hit by a fall in its pre-tax profits has said new products and 'organic growth' will help improve its market share.

Linwoods, which produces seed, nut and berry products, saw its profits before tax almost half, dropping from £1.55m to £837,160 in the year ending July 31, 2016.

The company saw turnover drop from £32.7m in 2015 to just shy of £30m, according to accounts for John Woods (Lisglyn) Ltd.

However, the company saw a small rise in its operating profits, rising from £1.02m to £1.03m.

In its strategic report, the firm stated: "The directors consider the results for the year and the position of the company at the year end to be satisfactory, in light of the current trading environment.

"There has been a slight decline in turnover, however, a small increase in margin has resulted in an improved operating profit.

"The directors are committed to long-term creation of shareholder value by increasing the company's market share through the introduction of new products and organic growth."

Staff numbers at the company increased slightly during the year, rising to 320 from 314 a year earlier.

The roots of the business go back to the 1930s, when John Woods' father, also John, started out collecting eggs before opening up a small grocery on Monaghan Road in Armagh.

Linwoods started out selling the milled flaxseed to health shops before expanding out into the general grocery sector. It now exports to Spain, Holland, Italy, Portugal, Finland, France, Sweden and Norway.

The firm entered the health food market after Mr Woods Jnr needed a heart bypass.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph in 2015, he said: "In 1996, I had a health setback and needed a heart bypass operation.

"I changed from a 100-hour working week man, who survived on fizzy drinks and chocolate, to 40 hours and a healthy eating regime. I became fascinated by the benefits of certain foods and had always remembered as a child during the 1940s and 1950s, that commercial animal feed wasn't widely available and people had to grow and mix their own, adding in the odd bag of milled flaxseed.

"My mother and I noticed that the calves on our farm really thrived on the flaxseed.

"Then in the late 1990s, I discovered a Canadian company who were trying to break into the European market selling milled flaxseed as a health food."

Belfast Telegraph

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