Simpsons Malt reports solid year-end despite dip in profits

Richard Simpson, vice chairman of Simpsons Malt at last year's Berwick Food and Beer Festival.
Richard Simpson, vice chairman of Simpsons Malt at last year's Berwick Food and Beer Festival.

Berwick-based independent maltster Simpsons Malt has described its year-end figures as solid despite a dip in sales and profits.

The family-owned company, including agricultural trading divisions McCreath, Simpson and Prentice (MSP) and John Guthrie, says the end of year results for 2016 were as expected, thanks to continued infrastructure investments global sales.

Tim McCreath, Managing Director at Simpsons Malt

Tim McCreath, Managing Director at Simpsons Malt

The firm credited its positive end of year mainly on increasing opportunities within the global brewing industry and continuing demand from distilling customers.

The business reported a marginal decrease in profit before tax to £9.3m, down from £9.9m, for the financial year ending on December 31, 2016, with turnover dipping to £143.8m, down from £160.7m.

Simpsons Malt, headquartered in Berwick with another malting plant at Tivetshall St Margaret in Norfolk, continued to invest heavily in the business.

During 2016, the group’s capital expenditure was £6,625,000, with new malt -ackaging facilities and a warehouse at Tivetshall fully commissioned in the year.

Simpsons Malt's Berwick-Upon-Tweed base.

Simpsons Malt's Berwick-Upon-Tweed base.

Simpsons Malt’s managing director, Tim McCreath, said, “The group’s malting business performed as expected, with malt volumes falling short of last year’s record performance. This was due to a marginal decline in distilling malt volumes not being fully offset by growing brewing volumes.

“Malt sales values declined during the year due to further decreases in malting barley prices. These factors combined to reduce both turnover and profit before tax.

“The prospects for our malting business remain extremely positive.

“Distilling markets are relatively flat in response to recent weakness in whisky sales.

“However, whisky sales in 2016 have shown positive signs, and whilst spirit production is expected to lag this sales growth, the long-term opportunities for this sector remain positive.

“Brewing opportunities continue to grow, and we are well placed, through our recent investments and quality of malt, to benefit from a rapidly changing and increasingly specialised global brewing market.”

Commenting on the performance of the firm’s merchanting divisions, Tim adds: “MSP and John Guthrie have experienced a challenging year as a result of tightened profit margins in the agricultural sector. However, they continue to stand firm, in an industry facing ongoing pressure on farm net income.

“Cereal values have only seen a modest recovery in value and therefore the prospects within this sector remain challenging.

“However, our high standards of grower service and our sustainable approach to malting barley procurement leaves us well placed to manage this challenge.

“We are incredibly positive for the future of Simpsons Malt, and will continue to invest heavily in the business and our people to ensure we continue to be world leaders in our industry.

“We will continue to lead by quality and innovation for future success.”