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Randox in £11m loss as police probe into 'data tampering' claims goes on


Dr Peter Fitzgerald,managing director of Randox Laboratories

Dr Peter Fitzgerald,managing director of Randox Laboratories

Dr Peter Fitzgerald,managing director of Randox Laboratories

A police investigation into a division of Northern Ireland medical testing giant Randox over alleged data tampering remains active after already costing the firm £2.5m, it has emerged.

It comes as the Co Antrim company, which employs 1,250, reported a £11.2m pre-tax loss during 2017.

It compares with pre-tax profits of £12.3m in 2016 and £18m in 2015.

Headquartered in Crumlin, Randox also operates out of centres in Donegal and Bangalore. It is developing a site across the Atlantic in West Virginia.

However, despite increasing turnover by £4m to £104.5m, the company was hit by a series of impairments and exceptional items during 2017.

They included £2.5m to re-run a number of tests at the centre of an inquiry concerning alleged data tampering at Randox Testing Services in Manchester.

The probe led to a criminal investigation and more than 10,000 cases being reviewed. The UK's Police Minister Nick Hurd confirmed in November that police had suspended all contracts with Randox.

Greater Manchester Police has confirmed that its investigation remains live, with two people still on bail.

It has also resulted in a number of people caught up in the controversy attempting to sue Randox.

Economist John Simpson said the retesting requirement was just part of a number of significant costs it incurred last year.

"Group profits have been hit by a series of impairments and exceptional items.

"Over £10m was deducted from profits to allow for the impairment of tangible and intangible assets and nearly £9m was deducted for exceptional costs," Mr Simpson said.

While Randox has declined to comment on its accounts, a strategic report released with its finances in recent days and approved by the board of directors, described the costs incurred as "one-off transactions", which it said "obviously had an impact on the reported profitability for the year".

The report further said: "The group and company have incurred exceptional losses this year, which have impacted performance, but the group is cash generative and is forecast to remain cash positive."

However, Mr Simpson added: "Even allowing for the impairments and exceptional costs, the underlying trading position reflected a more difficult trading year. The group bank loan agreement with Danske Bank was temporarily in default. However, the group was given a covenant waiver by its bankers and received an assurance that bank facilities would be retained on acceptable terms."

Mr Simpson said the company's profits could return from red to the black next year, but nothing was certain.

Addressing the current economic uncertainty, the report from Randox added: "The current economic conditions create uncertainty, particularly over the level of demand for the group's products; exchange rates between the euro and other currencies impacting on the cost of the group's raw materials; and the availability of bank finance in the foreseeable future."

It concluded: "The group's strategy is to continue to build on the philosophy of providing world class diagnostic products to improve healthcare and create shareholder value by investing for the long term and by positioning the group to be the leader in its chosen markets.

"In future years the directors expect the group to return to operating profit."

Earlier this year, Randox announced its plan to invest £50m on developing technologies to diagnose conditions like cancer and infectious diseases through 'centres of excellence' in three of its premises, where scientists will work with academics from Queen's University and Ulster University.