Sales at potato firm Albert Bartlett have climbed 18 per cent to £146m, but operating profit was again impacted by price pressures in the supply chain.

In accounts newly filed with Companies House, the Airdrie-based firm said the performance was satisfactory, “given another year of challenging market conditions which continue to put significant pricing pressures on the entire supply chain”.

Operating profit in the year to May 31 fell again, to £1.8m from £2.1m. In the 2015 financial year, operating profit was £8m, with last year’s fall partly attributed to start-up costs for its frozen foods business.

Loading article content

The pre-tax profit of £1.8m was largely because of a £1.3m foreign exchange gain on intercompany loans.

Strong growth was noted in Albert Bartlett’s frozen food business, which launched in 2015 with the acquisition of a frozen potato processing facility in Norfolk. Initially launching with three lines, this has been doubled to six.

Finance director Sara Miller said the company’s strategy would continue to focus on the development of the Albert Bartlett brand, in addition to its premium varieties and supermarket own-label ranges.

“We remain committed to the development of the business and will continue to evolve our product offering to increase efficiencies and expands into new areas,” she wrote. “In particular we are focussing on the customer offering within supermarkets’ own label business to increase volumes and improve efficiencies.”

Ms Miller added that the company would continue to work closely with its group of more than 100 growers across the UK and Jersey to ensure they adapted in response to the “challenging retail environment”.

International sales in the year totalled £900,000, up from just £43,366. Sales into the Europe were £457,719 with the company’s website stating it exports to The Netherlands, France and Czech Republic. Sales into the US were £433,911, from a standing start.

The average number of staff employed during the year fell from 774 to 755, with the reductions being in its factory staff. Bartlett operates four production sites across the UK in Airdrie, Lincolnshire, Cornwall and Jersey.

Director pay was up to £2.8m from £2.4m, but the highest paid director saw their pay fall from just more than £1m to £997,317.