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RR Spink Returns to Profit Despite Export Challenges

Historic Arbroath fish firm RR Spink & Sons was in the black last year despite ‘challenging’ export markets.

Accounts just lodged with Companies House show the business achieved pre-tax profits of £849,000 in the 12 months to March 29, 2020. This compares with losses of £751,000 in the previous year.

However, turnover dipped to £30.70 million against £31.66m in 2019. The fall was due to the loss of one customer.

RR Spink, which was founded in 1715, specialises in sustainable smoked salmon and smoked trout.

It employed an average of 194 people in the year – up 10 on the previous period.

The directors’ strategic report with the results says the firm had made significant improvement in operational efficiency. Gross margin rose to 10.8% from 6.4%.

The report states that the focus for the business during the year was on operational effectiveness and delivering the benefits of recent investment spend.

The directors add that, after the year end, RR Spink faced the challenge of Covid-19.

They go on: “A Covid response team was mobilised with the main aim of protecting the health and safety of employees.

“A wide range of measures were implemented to ensure social distancing throughout the workplace and the majority of office staff transitioned to working from home.

“The impact on sales has varied in quantum across UK retail, B2B (business to business) and export markets.

“Export markets have been most challenging, with reduced air-freight availability and increased costs.”

The directors say that the firm will seek to move forward through business growth, both in UK retail and B2B.

They add: “Greater utilisation of available capacity will deliver further synergies, alongside new product development to ensure that all product formats continue to grow across cold, hot and poached categories.”

RR Spink’s ultimate parent is Dawnfresh Holdings, one of the UK’s largest producers of fish and seafood.

It produces for food service and retail, both in the UK and around the world. In addition to using its own farmed trout, it also works with many other species.

Dawnfresh Holdings was in the red again in its last financial year.

Its pre-tax losses of £5.75m in the year to March 29 2020 was an improvement on 2019’s loss of £8.91m. Turnover fell slightly to £72.36m.

The directors say in their strategic report that a substantial step-change improvement had been made in business performance compared with the previous year.

Gross margin had improved by 2.1% to 8.2% and overhead costs reduced by £2.3m.

The directors add: “Over the course of 2019-20, the principal focus of the business was to drive benefit from the major investments made in the previous year across our processing facilities at Uddingston and Arbroath, expanding our customer base in export markets in preparation for a 20% increase in harvest output from our farming operations, and to reduce overhead costs through the consolidation of our pickling operations at Grantown into the existing footprint at Arbroath whilst also reducing central management costs.”

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