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Turnover at W&R Barnett falls markedly

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In total, staff costs including wages, social security and other pension costs were £67.5m

In total, staff costs including wages, social security and other pension costs were £67.5m

In total, staff costs including wages, social security and other pension costs were £67.5m

Turnover at one of Northern Ireland’s few billion-pound businesses fell by 16% to £1.136bn over the year to July 2020, its latest accounts show.

Companies House records filed this week by historic family company W&R Barnett for the year ending July 31 last year showed a fall in turnover from £1.355bn.

Pre-tax profits fell by 5.6% from £46.3m to £43.7m over the year.

The Belfast-based business’s interests range from the international trade in grains and derivatives, molasses trading and making animal feeds, to breeding horses and manufacturing corrugated packaging.

In a strategic report filed with the accounts, the directors commented that the level of business and financial position at year end were satisfactory, and that investment in people, products, facilities and acquisitions would continue.

It added: “Turnover fell due to reduced commodity volumes and falling prices of paper and feed ingredients. Profitability was affected by lower volumes and diminished levels of gross profits but the company continued to be cash generative.”

The report added that it had acquired 13.33% of the issued shares in corrugated packaging company Logson Holdings Ltd for an estimated £21m, so that it now owns the entire company.

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It also acquired remaining shareholdings in Jersey-based molasses trading company Kruden Limited and Premier Molasses Company Ltd for £15.5m.

In October, trustees of a group retirement benefit scheme and pension scheme bought insurance policies from Scottish Widows costing around £11.5m and £25.2m.

In total, staff costs including wages, social security and other pension costs were £67.5m. Staff numbers climbed from 1613 to 1629.

The report commented that Brexit presented “relatively low overall risk”.

Nor had the Covid-19 pandemic had a major impact. “The group has been largely protected from the consequences of the ongoing Covid-19 spread due to its position in the food supply chain.”

The business also paid a final dividend of £1.47m for the year ending July 31 2019, while an interim dividend of £1.47m was paid during the year to July 31 2020. Directors recommended a final dividend for the year of £1.5m.​​​​​​​


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