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Suffolk-based Pauls Malt reports fall in annual sales and profits

PUBLISHED: 11:50 31 March 2017 | UPDATED: 11:50 31 March 2017

Part of the Pauls Malt site in Bury St Edmunds.

Part of the Pauls Malt site in Bury St Edmunds.

East Anglia-based Pauls Malt is targeting more sales in the fast-growing craft brewing market after a year in which global beer sales declined for only the fourth time since 1950.

Malting barley at Pauls Malt in Bury St Edmunds. Malting barley at Pauls Malt in Bury St Edmunds.

Accounts newly filed at Companies House show that Pauls, which supplies the brewing and distilling industries in the UK and internationally, saw turnover fall to £109.321m in the year to June 30, 2016, compared with £121.193m in the previous 12 months.

Profit before tax fell to £8.598m, from £9.443m in 2014-15, with a reduction in the cost of sales and distribution offset by increased administrative expenses.

The overall decline in turnover included a fall in UK sales to £86.716m, from £94.254m the previous year. Sales to the rest of Europe, Asia and Africa were also lower, although there was a small increase in sales to the rest of the world.

Pauls, which is part of the international maltings group Boortmalt, based in Antwerp, Belgium, says in its report accompanying the annual accounts that UK beer market remained stable, with 2015’s fall in global sales being led by reductions in China (4.3%), Brazil (2%) and the United Sates (1.4%).

It also notes that, while the UK’s average beer consumption 67.1 litres per head is now below the European Union average of 72 litres, the UK remains the world’s ninth largest beer producer.

“In common with many other countries the UK has benefited from the craft revolution and the numbers of UK brewers increased by 200 in 2015 to reach 1,380,” it says. “The US continues to lead the world as far as craft brewing is concerned with further growth of 13% in 2015 and the 4,225 craft brewer now accounting for 12.2% to total US beer market share.

“In response to this development the Boortmalt group has developed four distinct craft beer brands including one for the UK. These will be progressively rolled out in 2017 to take advantage of the global craft phenomena and the associated attractive margins available,” it adds.

Pauls Malt, a member of the Top 100 list of the 100 largest companies based in Suffolk in Norfolk, has its headquarters in Bury St Edmunds and also has a site in Knapton, near Malton in North Yorkshire, where additional capacity was installed last year, and two in Scotland – Hillside, near Montrose, Angus, and Buckie, in Banffshire – which principally serve the Scotch whisky industry.

The Pauls Malt business was founded in Ipswich in around 1842 by Robert Paul and was incorporated as a limited company in 1893, as R & W Paul Ltd, named after the founder’s sons, Robert and William, and as a plc, Pauls, in 1960.

This prefaced a period of further expansion including, in 1963, a merger with London-based White, Tomkins & Courage to create a new holding company, Pauls & White.

In 1985 the group was acquires by Harrisons & Crosfield (later known as Elementis) of which George Paul, a fifth generation member of the founding family, became chief executive.

In 1998, as part of a move by Elementis to focus on its core chemicals business, Pauls was sold to the Irish-based agricultural group Greencore which in turn, as part of plans to focus on convenience foods, sold its malt business to the French co-operative Axereal, parent group of Boortmalt, in 2010.

Besides Belgium and the UK, Boortmalt also has operations in France, Ireland, Croatia and Hungary.

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