Business

Mash Direct taps into UK market to grow revenue to £16 million

Lance, Martin, Tracy and Jack Hamilton at the family farm in Comber - the base for award-winning food producer Mash Direct

AWARD-winning Co Down food producer, Mash Direct has grown revenue to almost £16 million this year on the back of increasing sales in the British market.

The business, based on a family farm at Comber has in its own words "continued to perform well", increasing turnover by over £1 million (6.7 per cent) in 12 months.

Mash Direct also increased its gross profit by 4 per cent from £6.1 million to £6.3 million and as a result of the boost in turnover grew staff numbers by 5.5 per cent from 163 to 172 for the year ending February 28.

In the strategic report accompanying the annual accounts the directors said the company has "continued to perform well" and in line with expectations.

"This growth was achieved by driving sales through existing retail and industrial channels, by increasing exposure to consumers geographically and by generating turnover through sales of newly developed products. The company remains on course to reach its future growth targets."

A greater emphasis on the British market has also reaped dividends for the food producer.

"The sustained investment in the marketing of the company's brand has raised awareness of the company's product portfolio away from its home market of Northern Ireland with 49.8 per cent of the company's sales now generated on the UK mainland," they said.

The company has said that "raw price volatility" presents the greatest uncertainty in forecasting the company's profits, but also highlighted the unknown quantity that is Brexit.

"The result of the EU Referendum held in the UK in June 2016 means that the economic landscape in which the company operates is expected to change. The extent of the impact of Brexit on the company is not clear at present. However, strategies to successfully prepare for and adapt to the various scenarios which the Board of Directors can possibly foresee are discussed at each monthly meeting. As a result the company aims to be well-positioned to cope with the implications of Brexit as possible."

Looking ahead the firm has said its ability to generate cash "remains strong" and that it is committed to continued investment. Total capital inward investment totalled £670,000 in the year and related primarily to plant and machinery installed in the company's newly-extended production facility, completed in 2015. Once fully equipped it will increase the firm's production capacity by a factor of three.

"The company's ability to generate cash remains strong, which allows the company to finance its growing working capital requirement and continued investments in its production facilities. Its customer portfolio remains extremely strong, with the majority of its business being with retail multiples from throughout UK and Ireland, " the directors added.

Mash Direct was launched by the Hamilton family in 2004 at their family farm and in 13 years the company has grown

to become a market leader in quality, convenient ‘field to fork' vegetable and potato dishes. Just last week the company received the Agri-food innovation award at the annual UTV Business Eye Awards.

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