Agri-tech group Devenish reveals financial impact of Belfast warehouse blaze

Firefighters the blaze at Devenish's Duncrue warehouse in November 2019. Picture by Steven McAuley.
Ryan McAleer

ANIMAL nutrition company Devenish said a major fire at its Belfast manufacturing plant hurt its growth in the last financial year and left it with exceptional costs in the region of £3 million.

Firefighters tackled the fire at the agri-tech group’s Duncrue Street warehouse over several days in November 2019, with the smell from the fumes spread across greater Belfast.

Devenish said the fire had a particular impact on its international markets.

Group turnover fell from £229 million to £226m in the year ending May 2020.

The company said the exceptional costs linked to the fire, turned a £1.37m operating profit into an operating loss of £1.7m.

After interest, tax and exceptional items, the loss for 2020 came in at £5.3m.

Chief executive Richard Kennedy said: “Whilst the ongoing impact of the fire at our Belfast plant in 2019 is reflected in our latest published accounts, we are re-orienting our business to exploit our portfolio of technologies in new and existing markets.

“We have demonstrated great resilience through this period and look forward to building on our progress further in the coming year.”

Devenish expects a return to profitability in the next financial year, with the Covid-19 pandemic pushing health and science further up customers' agenda in the agriculture sector and beyond.

The company said it has continued to reinvest heavily in research and development at its lands at its site in Dowth, Co Meath and elsewhere.

“Despite navigating the challenges of the fire, we continue to have an unwavering focus on innovation and are reinvesting in the future of the industry,” said Mr Kennedy.

“We are pleased to be making progress on our research and development programme, which is supported by the European Investment Bank.

“It is reassuring to see uncertainty around Brexit lessen and the progress on Covid vaccines means that we expect to see a return to more normal trading relationships in our international markets during the coming year,” he added.

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