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Profit and turnover down

Falling barley prices put squeeze on Simpsons

Tim McCreathA slip in volumes and barley prices saw profits and turnover dip slightly at Simpsons Malt, the family owned company, that includes agricultural trading divisions McCreath, Simpson & Prentice (MSP), and John Guthrie.

The business reported a marginal decrease in profit before tax to £9.3 million (£9.9m) for the year ending on 31 December 2016 with turnover dipping to £143.8m (£160.7m).

Simpsons Malt, which is headquartered in Berwick-upon-Tweed with another malting plant at Tivetshall St Margaret in Norfolk, continued to invest heavily in the business.

During 2016,  capital expenditure was £6.63m (2015: £6.9m) with the Group’s new malt packaging facilities and warehouse at Tivetshall fully commissioned in the year.

Managing director, Tim McCreath (pictured) said: “The group’s malting business performed as expected with malt volumes falling short of last year’s record performance.

“This was due to a marginal decline in distilling malt volumes not being fully offset by growing brewing volumes. Malt sales values declined during the year due to further decreases in malting barley prices. These factors combined to reduce both turnover and profit before tax.

“The prospects for our malting business remain extremely positive. Distilling markets are relatively flat in response to recent weakness in whisky sales.

“However, whisky sales in 2016 have shown positive signs and whilst spirit production is expected to lag this sales growth, the long-term opportunities for this sector remain positive.

“Brewing opportunities continue to grow and we are well placed, through our recent investments and quality of malt, to benefit from a rapidly changing and increasingly specialised global brewing market.”

Commenting on the performance of the merchanting divisions, MSP and John Guthrie Ltd, Mr McCreath added: “MSP and John Guthrie have experienced a challenging year as a result of tightened profit margins in the agricultural sector.

“However, they continue to stand firm, in an industry facing ongoing pressure on farm net income. Cereal values have only seen a modest recovery in value and therefore the prospects within this sector remain challenging.

“However, our high standards of grower service and our sustainable approach to malting barley procurement leaves us well placed to manage this challenge.”

Looking ahead, he said: “We are incredibly positive for the future of Simpsons Malt, and will continue to invest heavily in the business and our people to ensure we continue to be world leaders in our industry.

“With further investment in speciality malt production facilities expected to be commissioned in 2017, we will continue to lead by quality and innovation for future success.”

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