| 11°C Belfast

Profits up 11% at energy firm as cold weather boosted its oil sales

Mcmullan Brothers, a family-owned energy company that trades under the Maxol brand, said profits jumped 11% last year as the company trimmed costs and the exceptionally cold winter forced customers to use more heating oil.

The Dublin-based holding company, which belongs to Noel, Malcolm and Maxwell McMullan, said pre-tax profit soared to €7.7m (£6.6m) last year from €6.9m (£5.9m) the previous year.

Sales rose 19% to €638m (£546m) as service stations were refurbished and last December's exceptionally cold weather led homeowners to stock up on heating oil.

The Irish-owned company was founded by William McMullan in 1920 and has a network of 214 service stations and 45 authorised distributors. One of the largest family-run companies in the Republic, the three directors are all grandchildren of the founder.

McMullan Brothers spent €10m (£8.56m) on redeveloping sites in Down and Cork last year.

It also added new sites to its network. Recent investment in computer systems helped reduce costs by €1m (£856,000), the company added. It also forecasts costs will be reduced this year.

The holding company, which also includes profits from distribution companies dotted across Ireland, said profit after tax and exceptional items slid to €5m (£4.3m) last year from €7.7m (£6.6m).

Volumes and margins were stable but sales of food, sweets and other products fell slightly due to the weak economy.

"Difficult economic conditions prevailed again in 2010," the company said.