Lurgan food firm Avondale is enjoying a major growth spurt after its latest financials revealed a 19 per cent uplift in turnover.
The company is one of the UK’s leading manufacturers and suppliers of coleslaw, wet salads, side salads, vegetable accompaniments, soups, sauces and mayonnaise to retail and food-service customers throughout Britain and Ireland.
And in the trading year to the end of last March, sales at Avondale Foods (Craigavon) Ltd rose from £41.1 million to £48.9m as it puts the building blocks in place for the upcoming year of food and drink in Northern Ireland.
Avondale’s clients include virtually every major supermarket chain in Britain and Ireland, including Waitrose, Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury, Tesco and Morrisons.
Last year it also secured a deal to supply garlic butter dough balls to HEMA, the Amsterdam-based discount retail chain.
At the time the company said it wanted to build on the success it is enjoying in Britain and Ireland for its product range by developing a strong base in Europe, particularly the Netherlands, which it plans to use as a springboard to neighbouring regions such as Belgium, Germany and Denmark.
Avondale’s gross profit on its 2014/2015 turnover came in at £11.1m compared to £9m in the previous trading period.
But its bottom line profit shrunk from more than £3m in 2014 to just £459,796 last year.
This was due to an exceptional item in which the company had to pay more than £3.5m to HM Revenue and Customs in final settlement of an employee benefits trust and special purpose trust dating back to April 2004.
Avondale, which is controlled by the Geddis family, had a staff of 374 at year-end (up from 333 in 2014), which led to its wages bill going up from £7.7m to £8.4m.
The directors’ remuneration package fell back from £515,312 to £417,985.
In notes published alongside the financials, the directors said they are committed to the long-term success and profitability of Avondale Foods, with a combination of product development, product efficiency and building key customer relationships.
They added: “The financial year has seen the commencement of a significant investment regime in the company, increasing capacity and making ready for new product opportunities in line with our strategic goals.”