Belfast Telegraph

Sales up to £174m for Tayto's parent firm in a year of acquisitions

By Margaret Canning

The parent company of Tayto crisps has reported sales growth of 6.5% to £174m for a year in which it also added popcorn and coconut bites to its interests.

And the highest-paid director at Manderley Group, which is based in Northamptonshire but is best known for its crisps from Co Armagh, was paid just under £1m for the year.

Pre-tax profits at the group, whose Tayto crisps are made in Tandragee's Tayto Castle, were down from £2.9m to £1.5m.

A strategic report filed with the accounts warned that the group, which manufactures in around five locations in England, faces competitive challenges from factors including Brexit, currency exchange rates and raw material price inflation.

However, it added that it was working with customers to maximise operating efficiencies.

Its strategic report for the year ending July 2017 said activities during the period involved the development of property as well as the sale and distribution of snack foods and crisps.

The report adds: "The crisps and snacks market continues to be challenging due to significant competition in the retail sector and continued pressure on consumers.

"Whilst there is the continued risk of volatility of raw material prices, the directors are confident that the group has adequate resources to continue in operational existence for the foreseeable future."

Sales of £174m were up from £163.3m the year before. Its main funder was Ulster Bank.

The firm had spent nearly £400,000 in acquisitions during 2017, including buying up a 75% stake in Portlebay Popcorn in Cornwall after it went into administration, and buying a minority share in Ape Snacks. It also bought Tavern Snacks in London.

Ape Snacks, which is based in London, makes crispy coconut curls and crunchy coconut bites for the healthier end of the snack food market with stockists including major supermarkets and American health food chain Whole Foods.

Job numbers at Manderley Group also grew from 1,357 to 1,384 during the year. Around 400 of its staff are based in Tandragee.

The company was founded by the Hutchinson family in 1956. Its four directors -Raymond Latimer Hutchinson, Stephen Thomas Alexander Hutchinson, Anne Alexandra Hutchinson Kane and Paul Allen - also the company's chief executive - were paid a total of £1.7m.

And the highest-paid director received remuneration of just under £1m (£961,961), which was up from £897,296 on the year before.

Last year, Montagu Group, described as an "affiliate" of Tayto, announced it had bought Freedom Refreshments Ltd - the first vending acquisition by the Tayto family.

Speaking last year, Paul Allen said the Freedom Refreshments purchase was "a key facet of our strategic development programme".

"While we have a strong share of the vending market in Northern Ireland, we only had limited reach into Great Britain and this deal will enable us to increase our presence significantly within this sector."

In 2016, the company told trade union Unite that it could make up to 80 people redundant in Tandragee, saying the year had been "difficult" in comparison with the previous period. However, it's understood just a small number of voluntary redundancies took place.

Last month, the company was 'named and shamed' by HM Revenue Customs for failing to pay the minimum wage to staff. It owed £2,236.14 to 50 workers.

A spokesperson for the firm confirmed they were advised of a "potential small inadvertent breach" of national minimum wage regulations in late 2016.

Belfast Telegraph

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