Barry & Fitzwilliam ‘not in danger of loss-making’ despite slump in profits

THE Cork-based drink distribution company Barry & Fitzwilliam saw its profits fall by more than half last year, but claims not to be in danger of becoming loss-making in the foreseeable future.

The company – which has the Irish distribution rights for a number of leading international drinks brands including Corona beer, the liqueur Jagermeister, McGuigan Wines and Teacher’s whisky – made a pre-tax profit of €1.64 million in 2009, according to accounts recently filed with the Companies Office.

This was considerably down on 2008’s profit of €3.43m. Similarly, operating profit fell from just over €3.9m to €1.83m last year; while total revenue fell 12.6% to €72.5m.

Management is expecting revenues for 2010 (the company’s fiscal year runs in tandem with the calendar year) to be in line with 2009’s levels and said the business, which employs around 80 people, will remain profitable.

“The company operates in a very competitive sector of the economy, which has been significantly affected by the current economic recession, particularly from the decline in consumer sentiment and a decrease in discretionary consumer expenditure. The company’s strategy is to consolidate its current position by remaining competitive on price and to be in a position to capitalise when the wider economy improves,” it added in its accounts notes.

Speaking yesterday, chief executive Michael Barry said the trading climate last year had been “extremely tough”, compounded by the weakness of sterling and rise in cross-border shopping.

Mr Barry added that this year has proven “equally as tough” and management will be “more than happy” to generate profits and revenue in line with the 2009 figures.

He added that trading conditions in 2011 are likely to be no better or worse than what has been seen last year and this, but said that the company is continually on the look-out for growth opportunities both in terms of new distribution agreements and company acquisitions.


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