Major Northern Ireland dairy cooperative Dale Farm has reported an increase in both group operating profits and sales in its latest accounts.

Chief executive Nick Whelan described it as "resilient performance in a challenging environment", with the accounts covering the full year of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dale Farm accounts in numbers

Sales across the group were reported to be up £19 million to £524 million (previous year £505 million) for the financial year ending March 2021.

Group operating profit was reported at £14 million (up 15% or £1.8 million compared to the year before). However, group operating profit (after exceptional items) was reported at £9.9 million (down compared to £12.2 million the previous year).

Dale Farm stated that "exceptional items refer to a combination of costs associated with revaluing our assets across the group and redundancies".

"These exceptional costs leave us in a stronger financial position moving forward."

Group profit before tax £8.2 million (previous year £9.8 million), EBITDA £20.8 million (previous year £19.3 million).

Speaking on the business’ performance, Dale Farm group chief executive Nick Whelan said: “I am pleased to report another solid year of results for Dale Farm for 2020/21, achieved despite some challenges during the year, not least the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Our breadth of sales channels allowed us to benefit from an uplift in retail sales volumes in 2020/21 despite a decline in foodservice sales volumes due to the pandemic.

"Additional operating costs were incurred during the year due to Covid-19, however despite these headwinds we achieved a solid set of financial results. It is also important to acknowledge the exceptional dedication of our people across the business who delivered a resilient performance.

Despite the challenges of 2020/21, we continued with our focus to maximise the return on our members’ milk supply through successful innovation, value-added sales streams, proactive margin improvement and continuous cost control, all of which will stand us in good stead and enable us to pay a market competitive milk price as we move forward.”

Whelan continued: “The business improvements achieved during 2020/21 and the continued commitment of our people allow us to look with confidence into 2021/22 and beyond.

"As always, continuous investment in our plant and people, and maximising profitability whilst paying a market competitive milk price will be at the heart of our strategy.”