Malt firm celebrates rising sales and increased production
- Credit: Archant
A Suffolk-based malt firm saw its turnover and gross profits rise, despite some tough challenges last year.
Muntons, based at Stowmarket, saw bulk malt production for brewing and distilling reach record levels of 200,000 tonnes across its Suffolk and Yorkshire sites, thanks to capital investment to improve efficiencies. Liquid malt extract also reached a record volume of 31,000 tonnes to markets in more than 60 countries. As a result, sales rose to £98m, compared to £90m in 2016, and gross profit increased to £26m. However, there were areas the firm was aiming to improve.
“Our joint venture investment in Thailand has also taken longer than planned to reach complete readiness, and has experienced operating losses in this year. Consequently, our net profit before tax is down on last year at £5.3m,” said chairman Paul Wells. “The intensive investment in capital projects, over £20m in the last four years, is transforming the company but can also bring some indigestion as we bring them to full maturity.”
The firm’s anaerobic digester plant was performing “very steadily”, he said, providing 14% of the Suffolk site’s electricity.
The company this year installed a grain colour separator to improve the assessment of barley, and is “well on the way” with a £2.4m investment in finished-malt handling.
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Incoming managing director Mark Tyldesley, who took over from Alan Ridealgh in January, said the firm was ‘setting its own path’ as it looked to the future.
“We need to challenge ourselves harder to get to the fundamental issues that are stopping us delivering the scale of growth we believe is achievable in both the US and with the joint venture in Thailand,” he said. “Brexit continues to be a sea of uncertainty. We remain keen watchers of the process and are focusing our efforts on talking to our customers, the majority of whom will not be affected by possible duty changes. And there are some wins coming our way as global businesses look to secure their UK market with investment in UK manufacturing and capacity.” But while 2017 barley harvest was described as one of the toughest in recent years, the grain team had worked well with growers to secure what was needed, he said.
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