Europe, UK, Ireland

Results down for major British potato supplier

Turnover and profits have dropped at one of the UK’s largest potato businesses, according to newly filed accounts.

Lincolnshire-headquartered Branston, which supplies own-label products to supermarkets, such as Tesco, as well as selling under its own brand, has reported a turnover of £133.5m for the year to 29 July 2018, down from £143m in the prior 12 months.

Its pre-tax profits also dropped from £6.4m to £4.4m over the same period.

The company, which employs about 600 workers, was formed in Lincolnshire in 1968 and also has sites in the South West, which it bought in 1997, and Scotland, established in 2004.

Managing director James Truscott said: “The 2017/18 season was one of very low potato prices driven by a large harvest. In our business that naturally flows through to downward pressure on our sales revenue and associated activities.

“This combined with a notable drop in volumes during the exceptionally hot summer period, reduced the net profits for the year.

“Overall sales volumes for Branston however saw modest growth over the 2017/18 year and our customer relationships are very positive.

“We continue to invest dynamically in enhancing quality, efficiency and sustainability of the business as we ready ourselves for additional growth in the coming years.”

A statement signed off by the board added: “The board is confident that the company’s strategy will continue to deliver results that meet our shareholders’ expectations in the years to come.

“The turnover decrease was driven by lower raw material costs characterised by a free-buy market operating consistently below contract pricing.

“As a result, trading margins were under pressure.

“The company continues to place customer service at the head of its schedule of corporate objectives, and this strategy of providing superior service, alongside a competitive purchasing policy, will drive the company towards its anticipated future success.

“To date, the impact of the Brexit decision in June 2016 has not had a material financial impact on the company.

“The board will monitor relevant metrics going forward – labour availability and the value of the pound against the Euro being most critical in the short to medium term.”

Report by Jon Robinson, Senior Digital Staff Writer with Insider Media