Strong year for pharma firm Norbrook as it invests in underlying business

Veterinary pharmaceuticals company Norbrook Laboratories has reported another big uplift in sales and profits
Gary McDonald Business Editor

PHARMACEUTICAL giant Norbrook Holdings has revealed another stellar trading year, with growth generated across the business.

Figures show that turnover soared by £33 million to £272 million, while operating profit jumped by nearly £12 million to £50.2 million.

It comes as the Newry-headquartered company significantly increased its capital investment, completing a second new laboratory facility, expanding and upgrading its manufacturing capability, and further beefing up its IT infrastructure.

Capital investment in the 12 months to last July was £16.4 million (six per cent of its revenues), bringing total invested in two years to more than £26m, and current total multi-year investment commitment is in excess of £50 million.

It continues a period of considerable restructuring at Norbrook following the death of its founder Lord Ballyedmond, who died in a helicopter crash at his estate in Norfolk in March 2014.

That restructure has been overseen by the company's chief executive, prominent Irish businessman Liam Nagle, who has been instrumental in removing all non-veterinary pharma assets from the balance sheet.

That concentration on its core market has allowed Norbrook to drive its business volumes upwards in many of its key territories like the US (sales up 17 per cent, a third success year of double digit growth), which makes up broadly a third of its business. Sales in Europe and wider-world territories have also grown.

While Norbrook supplies 80 per cent of its veterinary pharmaceuticals to enhance the health of farm and animals, a major growth area has been in supplying into the so-called companion animals sector (these are domesticated or domestic-bred animals, such as pets or working dogs).

"The increase in farm and companion animal categories was 12 per cent and 20 per cent respectively," said Nagle.

"We further strengthened our portfolio with three new products over the period, including Carprofen Chewable Tablets for Dogs in particular, which supports our business growth plans in the significant American market.

"Indeed new product development is a key growth driver for us going forward and we continue to work closely with our customers to identify new opportunities," he said.

Despite Norbrook having set up a 'Brexit committee' to deal with the business aftermath of the UK's exit from the EU, Nagle refuses to speculate on what impact it will have on the business.

He said: "You can only control what you can control. We're concentrating right now on winning new business and bringing new products to market, an we'll react accordingly to Brexit when appropriate.

"Our business cycle is five-to-seven years, and we work in a highly regulated environment, which makes change slow, so we'll wait and see on Brexit."

More than 1,700 of Norbrook's 2,000 staff are based in Newry, with another 100 in Nairobi and the remainder dotted across around Europe, the US and Australia.

Nagle added: “These are solid results, and we're confident in our plans for the future and our portfolio.

"We will continue to invest in delivering growth and a sustainable business with a clear and focused strategy to take advantage of what continues to be a buoyant veterinary pharmaceutical sector.”

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