One of the UK's largest farmer-owned co-ops, Dale Farm, has announced significant increases in profit, return on capital employed (ROCE) and turnover as part of its latest financial results.

For the year ending March 2019:

  • Group operating profit rose by 18% to £14.3 million;
  • Profit before tax increased 19% to £12 million; and
  • EBITDA went up 15% to £20.9 million.

Overall, group turnover grew 5.6% to £509 million over the same period.

Commenting on the results, Dale Farm group chief executive Nick Whelan said: “Our financial performance is measured by our ability to best support our farmer-owners and, as such, our 2018-19 accounts are hugely positive.

Our consistent profitable growth is the result of our people working together on an ambitious strategy in a culture of continuous improvement, a focus on product and process innovation and building partnerships with major customers across the UK, EU and beyond.

“I am delighted to be able to report that Dale Farm has paid the leading milk price according to the 12-month rolling milk price league in Northern Ireland throughout this past financial year."

Having invested £30.2 million into its facilities and operations over the last four years, Dale Farm this year reported a 15.8% ROCE for the group overall.

Whelan said: “We continually assess and reinvest into every step of the production process to increase our operating efficiencies and, in doing so, have achieved a return on capital well above the industry average.

“A vital ingredient in our success is the capability of our people, so we also invest heavily in developing talent to support the delivery of our growth trajectory.

"In addition, we have a fundamental belief in the evolution of the ‘Lean’ culture across our group, which is a vital tool in helping us manage both significant ongoing cost inflation and address the impact of potential challenges, such as Brexit.

Our cooperative ethos is underpinned by a long-term vision to support dairy farming across Northern Ireland and Great Britain and that will remain the driving force behind our development going forward.

“Success for Dale Farm means success for every dairy farmer within our membership as we look to strengthen our balance sheet, while at the same time paying the best milk price possible.

"This ethos has attracted a significant number of new members and suppliers over the past financial year with growth of over 7% in our milk pool."