Family tea brand Ringtons has broken its own records to post sales of £47.3m in a heady year the firm said has been driven by investment and building upon customer relationships.
The North East tea and coffee company has revealed annual accounts which show operating profits have increased by 26% to £4m on turnover of £47.3m for the year ended June 2013.
The record-breaking figures – the highest since the firm began over a century ago – have been achieved through continuing to focus on delivering high-quality products in its door-to-door-service, and through investing in the company’s facilities.
All told, £2.5m has been made on capital expenditure in the period, and directors said the firm has continued to re-invest to facilitate growth, which has allowed the workforce to grow from 483 employees to 505.
Executive chairman Nigel Smith said the financial results for 2013 and 2012 have been “exceptional” for the family firm, and said turnover of £50m has been targeted for the coming year, but that their true target was to consolidate the successes of the last two years.
He said: “We’re very pleased once again to report further growth in our business which we believe is due to consistently offering our customers high quality and good value for money, backed by excellent customer service.
“Last year we continued to extend our relationships with our major customers and grow the business and we hope to consolidate that growth and the customers we look after. Next year is a year of consolidation.
Simon Smith chief executive of Ringtons said: “All channels of our business supported the growth in our latest figures, particularly private label sales, Ringtons’ doorstep delivery business and the Ringtons Beverages division which looks after all of our catering customers.
“Our franchise and internet businesses also did well in this period.”
The doorstep delivery service continues to be a focal point of the business throughout the North and through franchise operations in East Anglia, Liverpool, Edinburgh and towns in between. Last year the business was keen to make in-roads into the south of the UK, where a captive audience of retired tea drinkers could be enlisted as new customers, and the South East is set to be targeted this year.
More than £1m was spent last year on importing a tea bag packing line from Italy, and further investments are set to be made this year, starting at the Longbenton factory which will be extended.
Colin Smith, tea packing director said: “Even after switching our tea storage from our own facilities in South Kirkby near Doncaster, to the Port of Tyne last year, we are still running out of production space, so we are intending to start work on extending our factory.
“Improvements will include adding to our warehouse, production and despatch areas as well as modernising employee and quality control facilities. “Work is expected to start at the end of this summer and will take approximately a year to complete.”
Over the course of the year the firm has also developed new export relationships in Japan, Australia and the US, spearheaded by chief executive Simon Smith.
Although it is early days, the company has discovered a lot of interest in our well-established traditional family tea business abroad.
Nigel said: “Our reputation is spreading. English tea is very popular overseas and we recognised that we have been missing out on an opportunity.
“Over the last couple of years we have been approached by people to export our tea.
“It give us confidence working with people overseas who want to distribute our tea in various markets. We are wanting to see how things go in the countries we have established relationships with – we aren’t going looking for people but they are approaching us.”
The firm said its also has a proud tradition of supporting the communities that support it and has its own charitable endowment fund with The Community Foundation of Tyne & Wear and Northumberland, to which the company has given over £1m to date.
Last year Ringtons established its own charitable trust with a £250,000 gift to build an endowment fund to support tea growing communities across the world, with initial focus on East Africa.
Projects undertaken by the Trust will range from educating tea estates on issues such as land use and sustainability, to building shelter and community centres for tea industry workers.
Despite being over 100 years old, Ringtons remains a family business – it is 95% owned by descendants of its founder Samuel Smith with the remaining 5% owned by a Trust established to support current and past employees on a discretionary basis.
Nigel Smith added: “All of the owning family are proud of the support we are able to give to all of the communities that have been involved in the success of Ringtons over the past 106 years.”