Belfast Telegraph

Sales mushroom but profits fall at Armagh company as it invests heavily in facilities

By Margaret Canning

A Co Armagh mushroom processor has reported a 33% fall in profits to around £338,700 in its latest results.

Unimush Ireland in Armagh buys and sells mushrooms and also carries out processing operations to make stuffed peppers and stuffed mushrooms.

The firm's customers include Asda, Tesco, Morrisons, Dunnes and high-end supermarket chain Booths in Great Britain.

While turnover was up by nearly 3% to £11.2m from £10.9m, profits fell from £506,000 to £338,718 as the company invested heavily in its facilities.

The firm's directors, Seamus Cassidy and Plunkett Curry, said that they were "pleased with the continued performance of the company".

Employment also increased slightly, from 82 to 85, with a total of £1.54m paid to staff members and directors in wages and salaries.

The firm additionally received £245,156 in Government grants.

A strategic report filed with the accounts for the year ending October 31 2015, said: "The company continues to develop new products and ideas to expand their market share."

The business also completed an extension of its factory on Edenaveys Industrial Estate on Newry Road in Armagh, according to the report.

The statement added: "The company has invested significantly over the past number of years on various research and development activities."

And it said it was "pushing the boundaries" within the food industry and winning awards for its products.

"The company has invested significantly in state of the art equipment and computer systems," it stressed.

It also said it had some customers and suppliers where transactions were denominated in currencies other than sterling.

"Separate foreign currency accounts are maintained for these transactions so that foreign currency fluctuations can be set off as far as possible," Unimush Ireland explained.

Looking ahead, the company said it expected to continue its present activities.

In March this year it was listed among the UK's most inspiring companies by the London Stock Exchange Group.

The report ranks businesses based on turnover and profitability on an annual growth rate of 50%.

In the year 2013 to 2014, Unimush's pre-tax profits grew from £347,753 to £506,061.

Speaking at the time, commercial manager Kevin McManus said the listing would help it build on its success in Great Britain and further afield.

The firm was set up in 1999 by Mr Cassidy and Mr Curry after they spotted an opportunity for a mushroom marketing company. Both men had already worked in the sector.

Their company sources mushrooms from a network of around 20 growers in Northern Ireland and sells around 90% of its output in Britain.

In 2008 the firm invested in a new mushroom slicing and bagging line.

Belfast Telegraph