Business Irish

Thursday 23 January 2020

Losses at Cowzer's East Coast Bakehouse hit €4.8m

East Coast Bakehouse founders Alison Cowzer and Michael Carey
East Coast Bakehouse founders Alison Cowzer and Michael Carey
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

EAST Coast Bakehouse, the biscuit firm founded by Michael Carey and Alison Cowzer, posted a €4.8m loss in its last financial year, according to newly filed accounts for the Co Louth-based business.

It brought its accumulated losses in the 12 months to the end of February last year to €12.2m.

The Drogheda firm, established in 2015, sells biscuits under its own East Coast Bakehouse brand, and manufactures own-label biscuits for multiples and other clients. Own-brand sales comprise about 40pc of its sales, while contract manufacturing makes up roughly 45pc of its revenue.

The Bakehouse exports its own-brand biscuits to 26 countries, with the UK accounting for close to half its total revenue.

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Mr Carey is the former chief executive of Jacob Fruitfield, which was sold in 2011 to Valeo Foods for €80m. Mr Carey made an estimated €16m from that sale. He's also a former chairman of Bord Bia.

Co-founder Alison Cowzer, who is Mr Carey's wife, is the company's marketing and innovation director. She previously worked for L'Oréal, and was an investor on the TV show Dragon's Den.

Speaking to the Irish Independent last autumn, Mr Carey said the group could raise as much as €10m this year to fuel its growth.

"We're constantly looking at what the next phases are, but we're reviewing our options in terms of the next round of investment," he said.

He added that the additional finance it might look to secure could range from a couple of million euro up to a "double figure of millions".

Mr Carey said the additional funds could be raised via a range of sources.

About €23m has been invested in the Co Louth-based business so far, including €7.5m in equity. Mr Carey and Ms Cowzer retain most of the equity in the business, but small stakes are held by other investors.

Those who have bought in include Donard Gaynor, a former executive with US drinks firm Beam; Patrick Joy, the founder of Co Louth-based Suretank; Laurence Shields, the founder of LK Shields solicitors; and Stephen Twaddell, the former president of Kellogg Europe. Enterprise Ireland has also invested in the business.

The latest set of accounts show that the company had an outstanding bank loan totalling €5.6m that falls due after more than one year. At the end of last February, it also had a €7.5m subordinated loan, compared to €3.5m a year earlier. The total amount owed to creditors at the end of the last financial year was €21.3m.

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