The largest feed company in NI, Belfast-based John Thompson and Sons, has reported operating profits of £6.16m for the year ending 31 July 2021, up marginally on the £6.02m for the previous year.
The company, which employs 163 people, also sells fertiliser, and saw turnover up 12% to hit £206.6m. However, with both feed and fertiliser seeing significant cost inflation in the last six months, it will be the next set of accounts before this is fully reflected in the figures.
Operating profit margin stood at 3%, which is slightly ahead of the 1%-2% typically reported by meat and dairy processors.
However, with an exceptional item of nearly £1m related to the company’s pension scheme removed, it left Thompson’s pre-tax profits at £4.94m, down from £5.89m in the previous year.
John Thompson and Sons is jointly owned by Belfast-based W&R Barnett and the Dublin-headquartered Origin Enterprises plc. Together, the two companies also own leading Irish feed importer R&H Hall, as well as fertiliser business Goulding NI.
But outside of the relationship with Origin Enterprises, W&R Barnett has other significant business interests and is one of NI’s largest and most profitable family-owned companies, under the leadership of managing director William Barnett.
Its core business remains the handling and storage of grain imports into NI, but it also owns Precision Liquids, supplying vegetable oils to the animal feed industry, and United Molasses Group, within which are a number of companies based around the world.
In November 2020, W&R Barnett acquired the remaining 13.3% of shares in Logson Holdings Ltd for £22.6m to take sole ownership of the Leicestershire business. Logson specialise in corrugated paper packaging and employ over 1,000 people.
The ultimate controlling party of all the companies owned by William Barnett is W&R Barnett Holdings Ltd.
Its most recent set of accounts to 31 July 2021 show that it had an operating profit of £52.45m on a turnover of £1.27bn, leaving an operating profit margin of 4.1%.
Profit after tax stood at £37.28m, up from £33.63m in the previous year. Total staff numbers stood at 1,684.
In the strategic report to accompany the accounts, the company directors put the increased profits down to higher volumes traded, but also noted the substantial damage caused to the R&H Hall grain and feed storage facilities at Cork Port due to a fire on 9 January 2021.
“The majority of the losses are expected to be covered by the proceeds of a claim under our insurance policies,” states the report.