Benchmark Holdings, the AIM-listed specialist in aquaculture, animal health and livestock information services has posted a pre-tax loss on 25% higher revenues following a year of acquisitions.
The Sheffield-based group made a pre-tax loss of £11.4 million on revenues of £44.2m in the year ended September 30th 2015, compared to a profit of £1.4m on sales of £35.4m in the previous year. The business had a net cash balance of £13.6m at the period end, down from £16.5m twelve months before.
The loss is attributed to “accelerated investment in scientific R&D” at £8.8m in the latest year, up from £6.4m plus the impact of a generic competition to the company’s Salmosan/Byelice product in the Chile aquaculture market. Group earnings from trading were down to £2.4m from £6.6m, due to investment in corporate infrastructure. However, the recently integrated Breeding and Genetics division, consolidating the aquaculture acquisitions of SalmoBreed and StofnFiskur in late 2014, saw an operating profit of £3.1m on revenues of £15.9m.
Since the financial year end, the Group has acquired the Dutch aquaculture business INVE for $342 million. INVE had revenues of $89 million in 2014, and Benchmark says the integration INVE is progressing well.
"Our strategy of diversification has proven successful, and that endeavour will be furthered again following the transformational INVE acquisition,” says Benchmark chief executive Malcolm Pye. “Our continued investment into R&D has seen our product pipeline increase from 47 to 61, and we are continuing to develop cutting edge capabilities at our research and manufacturing facilities in Ardtoe and Braintree.
"Benchmark has always been committed to targeted M&A activity, and has recently completed the transformational acquisition of INVE Aquaculture. This newest addition to the Group creates the fifth and final 'cog' in our gearbox, and allows us the increased reach and the platform needed to rapidly scale the company."