Pre-tax profits grew by 26.8% to £5.2m ($7.2m), which the company said reflects strong underlying business growth, the impact of the change in consumer behavior in response to Covid-19 and favorable commodity price movements.
Ornua Foods UK said its branded and own-label portfolio of cheese and butter benefited from the change in consumer behavior, with lockdowns giving rise to more home cooking as consumers, with an increased focus on health and wellbeing, navigated towards natural, nutritious foods from familiar brands.
However, profitability was impacted by an increase in costs as the business put in place Covid-19 safety measures across its operations and met increased consumer demand with extended operating times.
The company had net assets of £38.4m ($53.4m), up 7.6% at the balance sheet date.
Ornua Foods UK said it continued to invest in cutting and packing equipment at its facility in Leek, including the installation of an additional high-speed cheese slicing line and further expansion of its cheese-grating capabilities. This delivered an additional 7,000MT of capacity, bringing total annual production to more than 110,000MT.
The UK left the EU at the end of January 2020 and in the post-transition period following Brexit, Ornua Foods UK said it worked closely with customers to ensure security of supply and undertook a range of strategic measures to minimize any potential negative impact. Central to this was putting in place contingency stock storage in the UK, developing tailored customer stock requirement plans, and the maintaining of a focus on production efficiency, product quality, customer service, and new product development.
The global pandemic impacted both public health and the wider economy. The demand for core retail customer cheese and butter lines has been strong and, despite the significant challenges that Covid-19 has presented to all in the supply chain, the business said it has been able to meet demand.
Bill Hunter, managing director of Ornua Foods UK, said, “Ornua Foods UK had a strong year with pre-tax profits up 26%, despite the significant challenges presented by the global pandemic and the post-Brexit transition. The key fundamentals of our business, namely great people, products, and partners, came to the fore as we all worked together to keep high quality food on supermarket shelves across Britain. I’m pleased to be able to report that, thanks to the hard work and commitment of our staff, allied with the close collaboration and support of our customers and supply partners, we were able to meet the surge in demand in retail while maintaining our customer service, product quality, and availability levels throughout.
“Looking ahead, our long-term strategic focus is on driving continuous improvement, delivering best in class category expertise and support to customers, building a strong own-label and branded product portfolio and optimizing experience in dairy commodities. This, together with ongoing investment in both our state-of-the-art packing facility in Leek and our Pilgrims Choice and Kerrygold brands, will continue to give the company a competitive advantage in the marketplace.”