Ulster Weavers parent firm John Hogg reveals increased sales

The Ulster Weavers division of John Hogg contributed more than £10 million to the group's turnover
Gary McDonald Business Editor

DYE-making to textiles firm John Hogg & Co has lauded another "satisfactory" trading performance after the group increased its sales to more than £40 million in the year to April.

From humble beginnings as flax traders in Belfast in 1890 to one of the world's leading manufacturers of dyes and markers for the petroleum industry, the group has a number of subsidiaries across various sectors including household textiles and giftware (it owns Ulster Weavers).

It also operates in property rentals, logistics and warehousing, finance, and the provision of travel services through Orrs Travel, which is based in Holywood and specialises in cruise holidays, group travel and city breaks.

Figures filed with Companies House reveal that turnover rose from £37.5m to £40.5m, though pre-tax profit slipped moderately from £2.8m to £2.1m.

The group's net assets increased during the year from £27.9m to £30.9m, partially driven by a £2.1m reduction in the pensions deficit.

The biggest contributor to the group's activities is John Hogg's technical solutions division, which provides marking systems for governments and companies across the globe to protect the value of fuels and branded products against laundering, adulteration and other fraudulent activities.

Its turnover jumped by more than 9 per cent to £22.9m and it returned a profit of £2.6m.

Ulster Weavers, which in recent years has expanded into new and lucrative areas of business, particularly in export, reported a 3.7 per cent uplift in turnover to £10.2m and a profit of just over £450,000.

It has strengthened its sales team with a view to greater market penetration in both the UK and USA and is actively exploring how it can widen its product offering in the home textiles sector both through organic growth and by acquisition.

Turnover at Orrs Travel shot up by more than 22 per cent to £5.4m, but with competitive pressures in a "difficult" marketplace, pre-tax profit was static at £13,165.

And the directors - made up of a number of members of the Webb family - warned that, with more holidays now being booked online without the need for a travel agent, they are currently reviewing how the existing travel business can be aligned with market expectations together with the type and format of holidays sold.

Elsewhere within the group, its Killylane Properties division performed "satisfactorily", with the loan-to-value ratio of the company's debt profile only 46 per cent, while John Hogg Operational freight forwarders continues to upgrade and develop its site in Banbridge.

In the Hogg group as a whole, employee numbers rose from 120 to 134 over the year, which in turn pushed up the wages bill from £4.8m to £5.3m.

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