Belfast Telegraph

Turnover goes flat at Shloer and WKD owner as profits fall to £17m

By Staff Reporter

Northern Ireland company SHS Group, owner of products from alcohol-free Christmas favourite Shloer to British Pepper & Spices, has announced a 5% fall in turnover to £374m.

Pre-tax profits were also down 11% to £17m, according to accounts for the year ending January 2015.

Employment at the firm, which is based on Airport Road in Belfast but also manufactures in England, was up slightly to 758 from 737.

According to the accounts, the highest-paid director out of seven in the firm was paid nearly £800,000.

The company's directors said the results and prospects for the future were "satisfactory". During the year the company also snapped up a final share of 5% of Woodchester Enterprises - the company behind cordial Bottlegreen - after buying a majority shareholding in the company in 2011.

As well as Bottlegreen and Shloer, SHS also owns Merrydown Cider and British Pepper & Spice, as well as Dublin companies Maguire and Paterson, which produces matches, and distribution firm Clayton Love.

WKD is its leading drinks brand with a retail value of £189m, while Shloer is the top adult soft drink in the UK and Ireland.

The division exports nine brands and has a turnover of over £10m, with production taking place in Cumnock and Woodchester in England.

SHS Group was founded in 1975 by Joe Sloan, now the company's chairman, and the late Geoff Salters. As well as the brands it owns outright, the group's sales and marketing divisions distribute brands like cereal Jordans, cracker Ryvita, dishwasher tablets Finish and Mars Drinks.

Chief executive Elaine Birchall, who was appointed last year, said: "For year ending December 2014, the SHS Group had a turnover in excess of £374m and pre-tax profits of £17.1m.

"The SHS Group is one of Northern Ireland's top 10 companies and remains a family-owned business with its roots firmly in Belfast.

"Overall, the SHS Group is in excellent shape with sustained profitability from our owned and agency brands.

"We will continue to focus on smart investment in brand development, our people and extension of our portfolio of brands through acquisitions."

The company has seven directors, who were paid a total of £1.465m, including company pension contributions.

The directors include former managing director Michael Howard, as well as Brenda and Karen Salters, the widow and daughter of Geoff Salters.

And they also include Joe Sloan and his wife Elizabeth. The highest-paid director received £765,495 but it's not clear which director was in receipt of the highest pay packet.

Recruitment specialist Neal Lucas said the sum was a high figure for Northern Ireland business - but that such big pay packets were not as rare as we might think.

He said: "There is a popular thought that we do not have many people earning six-figure salaries in Northern Ireland.

"Whilst we do have relatively few people in highly remunerated corporate or multinational roles here, there are plenty of people working in privately-owned SMEs, not just business owners, who are paid very well once the basic, car, bonus and dividends are totalled."

Belfast Telegraph