Rising export sales add fizz to Hexham drinks maker Fentimans' turnover

The Hexham-based botanically-brewed drinks makers grew sales to £15.3m, driven by rising export sales.

Eldon Robson, owner of Fentimans, with some of the soft drinks they produce
Eldon Robson, owner of Fentimans, with some of the soft drinks they produce

Northumberland drinks firm Fentimans grew turnover by almost a third in a year after getting a welcome boost from rising export sales.

Latest accounts for the Hexham botanically-brewed drinks makers show how sales increased on a like-for-like basis by 30.2% to £15.3m, with export sales accounting for 24.7% of sales, compared to 16.6% in the 18 months prior.

Gross margin at 48.3% was also higher by 6.7%.

The firm, which employs an average of 23 people, produces a range of botanically brewed drinks and cocktail mixers made using traditional methods from recipes held in the Fentiman family for over 100 years.

Although the original company closed down in the 1960s, it was reopened in 1988 by Eldon Robson, great-grandson of the founder of Fentimans.

Since appointing a dedicated export team in 2010, Fentimans has increased the number of the overseas territories it serves from eight to 42, with an ultimate goal of serving 50 territories.

Looking ahead, the firm said: “Trading in the current financial year continues to be strong with turnover for the first seven months of the year some 30% higher than the previous year.

“Both UK and overseas markets are performing ahead of budget with the company’s mixer range doing particularly well.

“In light of the recent strengthening of the pound against the euro, the company is providing help to support its Eurozone customers.

“The director manage the business by a combination of closely monitoring actual results and cashflow against regularly updated forecasts and by reference to the key performance indicators of turnover, margins and EBITDA.”

The firm posted an operating loss of £3.195m after writing off £3.7m as an exceptional item.

The exceptional item related to money withdrawn from a current account maintained with the company by its owner and major shareholder Eldon Robson, who paid £97,400 into that account during the period. In all, £3,740,182 was written off from the current account and £3,147,621 was withdrawn, compared to £2,497,624 in the previous accounts period.

That leaves a balance due to the company, including debtors, of £2,296,001.

At the year end shareholder funds stood at £1.137m.

The company declined to comment on its accounts.

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