Belfast Telegraph

Plenty of fizz for Northern Ireland Shloer owner SHS as turnover jumps by 23%

By Margaret Canning

The Northern Ireland owner of consumer brands including soft drink Shloer and Sunny Jim firelighters has reported an increase of 23% in turnover to £467.7m during 2016.

SHS Group, based in Airport Road West in Belfast, also reported a 17% rise in pre-tax profits to £24.8m during the year.

And it said the year had brought bigger sales than ever of the fizzy fruit drink Shloer - particularly in the Northern Ireland market.

The product has close associations with Christmas for many Northern Ireland families as an alcohol-free alternative to wine.

But the firm, which also sells herbs and condiments, has said the tipple is an all-year round good seller.

Chief executive Elaine Birchall said: "Shloer continues to be a household favourite delivering consistent year on year volume growth across all regions, particularly Northern Ireland."

Publication of the company accounts for 2016 come after the firm bought a fire products company that will bring even more household names into its portfolio.

In July, the company paid an undisclosed sum for Standard Brands, which produces Sunny Jim firelighters and the Zip range of fire products.

And it can be revealed it has also snapped up no&more, a company selling flavoured spring water. It rebranded from Nuva in September this year and was founded by a former marketing director of Evian.

And it also owns Merrydown Cider and alcoholic drink WKD.

Elaine Birchall said: "Group trading performance has been above expectation for the year with profits further enhanced by prudent management of operating costs and foreign exchange exposure.

"All group trading divisions delivered excellent top line growth driven by innovation, new business and brand investment.

"Innovation has been a core feature of our activity.

"The WKD and Merrydown brands were relaunched and the soft drinks portfolio benefited from growth in core and international markets."

The firm also operates as agents for other brands, including Ryvita.

Ms Birchall said: "The sales and marketing divisions in Ireland and the UK increased revenues from new contracts while sustaining customer service in their core business, and the condiments and sauces division consolidated its position of market leader in private label herbs and spices through excellent innovation and new business contracts."

Ms Birchall added purchasing Standard Brands and no&more would be crucial to growth.

"The no&more acquisition will allow SHS Drinks to meet demand in the growing 'better for you' category, while Standard Brands, the world leader in ignition products, will strengthen our household offering consolidating our position in core markets and extending our footprint abroad," she said.

"These acquisitions align with our strategy which is centred on delivering long-term sustainable growth through a multi-channel approach exploring new markets.

"It is an important step in our overall business plan to identify brands that will aid our development plans for future growth in the British, Irish and international fast-moving consumer goods markets.

"Given prevailing economic and market conditions, the results for the period and the prospects for the future are satisfactory."

The company's workforce also increased during 2016 from 764 to 781, while its highest-paid director also received an improved package, with their pay including company pension contributions growing by 13% from £466,500 to £530,565.

Belfast Telegraph

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