Fuel group in red with €1.06m loss

The fuel group owned by the man at the centre of the donations controversy that derailed Sean Gallagher’s presidential bid went into the red last year in spite of revenues increasing 30% to €143m.

Accounts filed by Hugh Morgan’s Morgan Fuels Ltd with the Companies’ Office show the Dundalk, Co Louth-registered group recorded a pre-tax loss of €1.06m in the 12 months to the end of March last year.

This followed the group recording pre-tax losses of €324,876 in 2011 — a negative swing of €1.38m. Revenues increased from €110m to €143.5m.

During the 2011 presidential campaign, Hugh Morgan alleged that Mr Gallagher collected a cheque from him at his Morgan Fuels headquarters.

On RTÉ’s Frontline programme, Pat Kenny read out a bogus tweet that claimed the man from whom Mr Gallagher had taken the cheque would appear at a press conference the following morning.

Mr Gallagher then stumbled and appeared to concede that he could have received an "envelope". Mr Gallagher categorically denied the allegation subsequently.

Mr Gallagher has recently instituted legal proceedings against RTÉ concerning the tweet.

The Morgan Fuels business employs 52 people and the returns show that the chief factor behind the business going into the red last year was a property writedown of €924,013.

The directors state that, excluding the writedown, the business recorded an operating profit of €124,382. Net bank interest payments of €244,180 added to the firm’s pre-tax loss.

The directors state: "The decrease in operating profit from 2011 can be explained by the fact that trading conditions remained challenging and the benefit of increased turnover was offset by margin reduction.

The directors state that the "fuel card division continued to be the major area of the business during the year, with approximately 75% of the group’s turnover relating to fuel card sales and 25% relating to domestic/bulk deliveries".

The group’s shareholder funds last year totalled €1.9m. The group’s cash declined from €936,858 to €214,618.