Saturday 24 February 2018

Mills and boom as profits rise 73pc at family-owned Avoca

Avoca has posted strong profits
Avoca has posted strong profits

Gordon Deegan

One of the Ireland's most popular family-owned retailers is going from strength to strength as it sells rugs, clothes, cakes and salads to an increasing number of people.

New accounts show the blend of fashion and food continued to weave strong profits last year for Avoca as pre-tax profits soared 73pc to €2.1m.

The business reaped the benefits from its continued expansion as Avoca Handweavers and subsidiaries enjoyed the increase in profits after revenues increased 12pc to €55.6m in the 12 months to the end of last January.

Avoca was started in the Wicklow village of the same name and is one of Ireland's oldest working woollen mills. It was saved in 1974 when solicitor Donald Pratt was employed to sell the mill when it faced closure. Instead, he decided to buy it himself. The Pratts began exporting handwoven rugs and throws and the company is now run by two generations of the Pratt family.

The business's revenues and profits were boosted by Avoca's opening of a new cafe and store on the grounds of Malahide Castle in October 2012 which created 110 new jobs.

The figures show that pre-tax profits at the group last year increased from €1.2m to €2.07m.

The group's retail division, Avoca Handweaver Shops, recorded the lion's share of profits, with €1.89m in post-tax profits. Avoca Handweavers NI Ltd recorded £101,484 (€122,000) in profits while Avoca Hand- weavers Designs recorded a loss of €193,879.

Numbers employed by the group last year increased from 589 to 665, with staff costs increasing from €16.48m to €18.4m.

Avoca designs and manufactures its own clothing, food and home furnishings from its Wicklow base and it has 11 retail stores and cafes in the island of Ireland.

"The group plans to continue to develop further unique food market and cafe operations and to develop new and distinctive ranges of fashion garments and accessories," according to the director's report.

The figures show that the increase in Avoca's operating profit rose 77pc to €2.86m as the group's prior pre-tax profits took account of a €371,359 profit made on the sale of land not repeated last year.

The figures show that interest payments arising from the group's expansion totalling €789,862 helped reduce the group's profits.

The group enjoyed 'other operating income' last year of €121,780. The profit last year takes account of non-cash depreciation costs of €805,221.

The group last year paid corporation tax of €281,461 resulting in post-tax profits of €1.8m.

No dividend was paid last year. The figures show that six members of the Pratt family that make up the board -- Donald, Hilary, Amanda, Simon, Ivan and Vanessa -- last year shared €1.43m in remuneration and pension benefits -- up on the €1.294m shared in fiscal 2012.

The group's tangible assets had a net book value of €43.6m at the end of January last that included land and buildings valued at €31.5m with leasehold property valued at €9m.

Managing director Simon Pratt could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Irish Independent

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