A major fire at Devenish's Belfast manufacturing plant, as well as the effects of Brexit and Covid-19, have caused the group to make a £5.3 million loss.

Devenish (NI) Limited’s consolidated financial statement for the year up to the end of May 2020, showed group turnover reached £226 million compared to £229 million the previous year.

Operating profit before exceptional expenses for the group reached £1.37 million from £3 million in 2019, although costs relating to the fire at the Belfast plant meant an operating loss after exceptional expenses of £1.7 million was recorded. After interest, tax and exceptional items, the loss for 2020 came in at £5.3 million.

A spokesperson for the company said the group expects to show a return to profitability in the year to May 2021.

However, it's the second year in a row financial performance at the company has been down, with pre-tax profits down 55% the year before.

A company spokesperson said sales had been "steady" and added that the firm was "eyeing future growth" as pandemic eases and sustainability becomes a global priority

"The fire has slowed growth, particularly in international markets, but the pandemic has pushed health and science – key focuses for Devenish – further up customers' agenda in the agriculture sector and beyond," a company statement read.

"The focus on tackling the climate crisis has never been greater, a move that fits with Devenish’s portfolio of agri technologies that enable customers to address challenges around the road to net-zero carbon emissions, whilst improving performance, profits and returns.

"To make sure it remains at the cutting edge of innovation, the company has been continuing to reinvest in research and development at its lands at Dowth in Co. Meath and elsewhere."

The business has also continued to invest in growing its global presence, adding a new pre-mix plant and research facility in Mexico, and hiring additional international area managers.

Brexit impact lessening for Devenish

Devenish chief executive Richard Kennedy added: “Despite navigating the challenges of the fire, we continue to have an unwavering focus on innovation and are reinvesting in the future of the industry. We are pleased to be making progress on our research and development programme, which is supported by the European Investment Bank.

"It is reassuring to see uncertainty around Brexit lessen and the progress on Covid vaccines means that we expect to see a return to more normal trading relationships in our international markets during the coming year.

“Whilst the ongoing impact of the fire at our Belfast plant in 2019 is reflected in our latest published accounts, we are re-orienting our business to exploit our portfolio of technologies in new and existing markets. We have demonstrated great resilience through this period and look forward to building on our progress further in the coming year.”