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Profits at Linwoods rise by 64% despite decline in turnover


John Woods, managing director of Linwoods

John Woods, managing director of Linwoods

William Cherry Press Eye

John Woods, managing director of Linwoods

Co Armagh food producer Linwoods unveiled a 64% jump in pre-tax profits to more than £1.5m as it pledged to continue introducing new products.

But turnover at the firm, which sells seed, nut and berry products as well as milk and bread, saw an 8.7% fall from £35.88m to £32.73m. Staff numbers, meanwhile, increased by 10% from 283 to 314.

In a strategic report accompanying the results for John Woods (Lisglyn) Ltd to the year ending July 21, the directors said they regarded the results as "satisfactory in light of the current trading environment".

"There has been a decline in sales along with an increase of overheads," the report added. "This has impacted on overall profitability."

Pre-tax profit increased from £940,089 to £1.547m, while profit after tax also rose by a substantial amount - to £1.4m, from £771,756.

The increase was down to investment income received in the form of a £754,592 dividend from subsidiary company John Woods-Linwoods Ltd.

The strategic report added: "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."

It warned the firm faced risks including competitor activity, market trends and forecasts and customer behaviour.

"These risks are also addressed through not being overly reliant on any one customer, strong customer service as well as investment in its people and facilities," it added.

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 grocers on Monaghan Road in Armagh.

The company entered the health-food market after Mr Woods jnr needed a heart bypass.

Last year, he told the Belfast Telegraph: "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.

"I got some samples, which I then gave to health food stores and independent retailers to try out.

"The feedback was good and the milled version was found to be more convenient to use and easier to eat than the whole version they were stocking."

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.

Belfast Telegraph