Business

Avondale Foods lifts annual sales to record-breaking £68.1m

Avondale Foods in Craigavon had record-breaking sales of £68.1 million in its last trading year
Gary McDonald Business Editor

LURGAN-based Avondale Foods increased its sales by around £5 million in the year to March 31 2021 and held on to the bulk of a near-£7 million profit, its latest accounts show.

The family-owned company, started by brothers Harry and Derek Geddis in 1965 when they began growing vegetables for distribution to local retail outlets, also paid out a dividend of £3 million in the last year (compared to less than £270,000 the year before).

And Avondale is now sitting on equity of more than £30 million, the accounts show.

The company's revenues rose from £63.1 million to a record-breaking £68.1 million, despite it operating in the teeth of the pandemic.

Its pre-tax profit dipped from £6.986m to £6.693m, and on a bottom-line basis it retained £5.75m.

The year ending March 2021 saw the company's workforce decrease slightly to 484 people, though its annual wages bill remained largely static at £15.3 million.

Total salaries for the firm's key directors rose to £494,478, with the package for the highest paid being £133,987.

Avondale specialises in fresh packaged food produce, manufacturing vegetable accompaniments, wet salads such as coleslaw and potato salad, fresh soups, sauces, dough balls, porridge and noodles for distribution throughout the UK and Ireland.

It trades under its own brand name Country Kitchen, but also makes products sold under brand names agreed with major supermarkets including Sainsbury's, Asda, Tesco, Waitrose and Marks & Spencer.

The directors said the company continued with “a significant investment regime” in 2019/20, increasing capacity and “making ready for new product opportunities in line with the company's strategic goals”.

Avondale started supplying lettuce to M&S in 1968 and is now one of Northern Ireland's biggest agri-food success stories.

Traditional coleslaw signalled a pivotal moment in its relationship with M&S, and today Avondale is the sole supplier of M&S coleslaw and potato salad.

As well as salads, Avondale also supplies porridge, mushrooms, croutons, stir fry sauces and noodles which are manufactured in the company's custom-built plant.

The founding Geddis brothers Harry (75) and Derek (73) still head up Avondale Foods as co-chairmen – nearly half a century after the company was established.

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