Belfast Telegraph

Takeovers help Belfast-based firm's turnover rise to £946m

By Margaret Canning

Pre-tax profits at family-run company W&R Barnett have soared by a third to reach £36.2m, its latest results have shown

Turnover also rose from £815m to reach £946m in the year to July 31, 2017, while its workforce also more than doubled to 1,240 following a number of acquisitions.

The Belfast-based firm has a range of interests, including animal feed, trading in grains, derivatives, oils and molasses, and the breeding of horses.

It also operates in the manufacture of corrugated board and the design and manufacture of corrugated cases and packaging after acquiring Logson Group in England in late 2015.

In total, acquisitions during the year added operating profit of £7m and turnover of £175m.

However, the acquisition of Logson has made the biggest impact on the business.

Other acquisitions included Hansa NFC GmbH and Hansa Land Properties GmbH, both of which are in Germany.

It has also recently acquired The Boxshop Limited in East Kilbride, Scotland and Nordische Futterfette Carroux GmbH & Co Handels KG in Hamburg.

One of the company's best-known Northern Ireland-registered subsidiaries is animal feed company John Thompson & Sons. In the year to the end of July 2016, turnover had fallen from £213m to £183m.

But pre-tax profits were up slightly from £4.4m to £4.6m, while employment increased slightly from 155 to 158.

The company makes compound animal feeding stuffs, as well as selling fertiliser.

During the year it also bought another feed business from Moy Park, which the accounts revealed had been for consideration of £985,000, as well as £283,315 for stock.

The acquired business had contributed around £2m in sales to John Thompson & Sons, the report noted.

The deal was for the dairy cattle, beef cattle and sheep feed side of McLarnon Feeds, based in Randalstown, Co Antrim.

In a strategic report, the company's directors said: "In a challenging agricultural environment, the company is constantly striving to maintain its position through an ongoing focus on customer service and product innovation (including participation in a number of local research and development initiatives) and a continuous appraisal of production and other processes."

It said the directors considered the company's financial performance to be "satisfactory".

The report also noted potential issues regarding Brexit, adding: "The directors are aware of the potential for additional risks arising from the recent EU referendum decision (Brexit) and are taking all possible steps to ensure the company is prepared."

The company was also exposed to movements in market prices in local and world markets of agricultural commodities.

The report added: "The company seeks to mitigate this risk through the policy of entering into forward contracts for such raw materials."

Looking ahead, the firm said it intended to continue operating as manufacturers and sellers of compound animal feeding stuffs.

Belfast Telegraph