Prima Cheese grows sales by 49.7% following strong year in export sales

Export and UK sales have soared at the Seaham-based cheese firm Prima Cheese

Jeff Wilson with Nagma Ebanks-Benni and Nima Benni
Jeff Wilson with Nagma Ebanks-Benni and Nima Benni

Soaring overseas sales triggered a 49.7% rise in revenues at a County Durham cheese company.

Prima Cheese – a former winner of the North East Exporter of the Year award – was first founded 17 years ago in Seaham by husband and wife team Behraz and Essmat Beni, after they swapped running takeaways with supplying cheese to restaurants and fast food outlets.

The family business imports and processes Belgian cheese and has today grown to become one of the largest independent cheese suppliers in the UK, and over the last few years has experienced a step change in sales after successfully exploring overseas markets.

The firm already had existing contracts in the Middle East with firms supplying countries including Jordan, Lebanon, and Bahrain, but over the last two years directors Nima Beni and Nagma Ebauks Beni, the son and daughter of the firm’s founders, forged links in the Far East, triggering a rapid rise in sales.

In the year ended March 2014 the firm said orders from existing customers in the UK and overseas were buoyed by substantial new orders, taking turnover from £25.05m to £37.5m, a rise of 49.7%.

The firm, which increased its workforce from 50 to 59 over the year, said: “The directors are delighted to report a significant increase in turnover of the company during the period, up almost 50% on the previous year.

“The turnover increase came from substantial new customer gains in both the UK and export departments as well as significant growth from established customers.

“Non-financial performance indicators such as quality standards and service levels also played a major role in the increasing turnover during the year.”

Profit for the financial year also increased from £783,688 to £884,840, although the firm said gross profits were slightly reduced by large fluctuations in the commodity price of raw materials and a “more aggressive marketing strategy”.

As a result, pre-tax profits slightly dropped from £1.067m to £982,640.

In future the firm said it aims to develop its supply chain links to reduce commodity risks.

A major capital investment programme has also started at the business which will see it significantly increase its manufacturing capacity.

The directors added: “The work is expected to be complete before the end of 2014 and will enable the company to focus on its core objectives of delivering first class quality and innovative products to its customer base.”

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