Belfast Telegraph

Sales at vet pharma firm Norbrook soar 8.5% to £216m

By Margaret Canning

Sales at Newry veterinary pharmaceutical firm Norbrook Holdings have grown to £216m in the last year, up 8.5%.

The first full year of results for the holding company were presented by Liam Nagle, its newest chief executive.

He succeeded founder Eddie Haughey, later known as Lord Ballyedmond, who was killed in a helicopter crash two years ago.

Mr Nagle said he was pleased with the results for the year to August 1, 2015, which also saw pre-tax profits at around £21.6m, down slightly from £22.2m.

He said the firm's business was "reasonably spread" in global markets, and growth had been particularly strong in North America, where sales were up 12%.

But he also indicated that growth of large animal veterinary products was slowing - and to counter that slowdown, the company would begin a major focus on products for pets.

"Traditionally, the company has been around 80% large animals' health and 20% companion animals, but the latter is going to become a growth area for us," Mr Nagle said. "Our competitors and peers would be 60% large animals and 40% companion, so we will be working towards that.

"Large animal products are still a growth area, but less so. The growth we have had of 4-5% isn't bad growth.

"We will still continue but companion animals is now a bigger opportunity."

He said difficult times in the farming sector, with falling prices taking their toll on spending, had an impact, adding: "We had seen deteriorating growth in Europe, the UK and Ireland but that's been offset by growth elsewhere."

New products have been launched in North America, including antibiotics and an anti-inflammatory.

Mr Nagle took the job in February last year after being head-hunted, starting almost a year from his predecessor's death.

Mr Nagle said: "It's obviously been a challenge to follow in Lord Ballyedmond's footsteps but it's not just about me."

He said the leadership of the firm had been strengthened with other new appointments, including a new director of operations.

"It's been about coming up with a clear vision and strategy for the company over the next five to six years. It is taking forward the legacy of the business that he (Lord Ballyedmond) started," he added.

Plans included a significant investment in capital expenditure, with proposals to invest in its manufacturing facilities.

And he dismissed suggestions the company was being readied for sale following transfers of around £74m in property and other assets from the company to the Haughey/Ballyedmond family.

"It's very clear that the business is not for sale," he said. "Lady Ballyedmond (widow of Lord Ballyedmond) and the board are very committed to the business.

"It's about building on the legacy of what he developed over the last 46 years, and taking that into the future."

Employment at the company had grown to 2,152, from 2,045 a year earlier, with around 1,800 based in Newry.

Lady Ballyedmond, a solicitor by training, is now a director of the company. Her sons, James, a doctor, and Edward, are also on the board.

The company received an insurance payout of £6.12m following the crash, which happened as Lord Ballyedmond's helicopter left his estate at Gillingham, Norfolk on March 14.

His foreman Declan Small and pilots Captain Carl Dickerson and co-pilot Captain Lee Hoyle, also died. A jury inquest in Norwich ruled that their deaths were accidental.

Belfast Telegraph