W & R Barnett is north's latest £1bn company

Grain and animal feed producer W&R Barnett Ltd is the north's latest £1 billion company.
Gareth McKeown

GRAIN and animal feed producer W&R Barnett Ltd has been confirmed as the north's latest £1 billion company.

The fourth-generation family business, one of the largest in Northern Ireland, has grown its profits before tax by 29 per cent from £36.2m to £46.8m in the year to July 31, 2017. In the same 12 months turnover jumped from £946.1m to £1.1bn.

The stellar figures have been boosted by one acquisition, which contributed operating profit of £871,930 and turnover of £13.8m.

The figures further show that W & R Barnett has grown staff numbers by 30 per cent over the year, with the full-time equivalent workforce increasing in size from 1,140 to 1,485. This has resulted in a dramatic £10m hike in the annual wage bill from £42.2m to £52.5m.

In the strategic report accompanying the company accounts, directors described both the level of business during the year and the financial position at the year-end as "satisfactory", and pledged to continue to press for growth.

"The group will continue to invest in people, product development, facilities and suitable acquisitions in order to ensure its ongoing development," they said.

"Principal business risks arise from foreign exchange fluctuations, the commodity markets and customer credit."

The annual accounts cover the entire W&R Barnett group - the holding company of a diversified group of international commodity trading, storage, agribusiness and industrial companies.

Founded in 1896, the group has grown from its origins as a grain merchant and expanded its operations to include derivatives, oils and molasses.The group also covers the operation of dockside facilities, the manufacture of animal feeds and horse breeding.

W&R Barnett subsidiary - animal feed and fertiliser supplier, BHH Ltd also recorded a successful financial year, growing turnover by 12 per cent in the year from £202m to £225.9m and increasing pre-tax profits and staff numbers.

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