Seabrook’s profits crisp up after stale period

By Nicholas Robinson

- Last updated on GMT

Jonathan Bye took over Seabrooks after leaving Vimto
Jonathan Bye took over Seabrooks after leaving Vimto

Related tags Seabrook crisps Potato Potato chip

Seabrook Crisps has returned to growth after reporting a £1.8M loss in 2012 and is now boasting a post-tax profit of £1.3M for this year.

The Bradford-based company’s turnover also rose by £1.7M this year from £22.8M last year, following the appointment of Jonathan Bye as ceo in 2012.

In its latest accounts filed with Companies House for the year ended March 2014, Seabrook Crisps’s directors hailed the company’s turnaround strategy as the main game changer.

An increase in profits was also reflected in the company’s remuneration packages, with the highest paid director receiving a £240,000 bonus this year – up by £62,000 on last year.

‘The turnaround’

“The creation of a sustainable, scalable business, appropriately structured for growth represented the first phase of the turnaround,” ​they said.

The company also plans to further develop its brand, which is more popular in Yorkshire and the north east of England than southern England, to create more growth and boost profits.

“There will be a number of new product launches to include a straight cut crisp ​… and our entry into the sharing market in the form of a lattice cut crisp, ​[which] is the first of its kind in the UK,” ​they added.

Although Seabrook Crisps has returned to growth, bosses of the family-owned business are aware of the potential threats stiff competition and commodity price fluctuations pose.

“The market in which the company operates is highly competitive with aggressive pricing strategies and high levels of promotional activity,” ​the directors said.

To combat potato and sunflower oil price fluctuations, Seabrook will lock in prices for periods of up to 12 months to “reduce or culminate” ​the risk.

Fixing prices

Focus on fixing prices was given particular attention as a result of the poor potato harvest last year, the effects of which were still felt by the company in the first quarter of 2014, said the directors.

“This adversely affected our results in this ​[first quarter]. However, with contracts already placed covering our next financial year, this issue shouldn’t recur.”

Meanwhile, Bye, the former boss of Vimto, told Food Manufacture ​last year he didn’t realise the full scale of the company’s troubles​ when he joined.

“Although I was in no doubt throughout the interview process that the business had run into a difficult period after having some great times, I probably didn’t realise the magnitude of the challenge,” ​he said.

Last year the company repositioned and relaunched the brand to focus on its core audience of 40 to 55-year-olds.

Seabrook Crisps also posted a £430,000 loss for 2013.

Read an interview with John Tague, Seabrook Crisps’s former commercial director, who transformed the company’s turnover from £11M to £30M between 2008 and 2011, by clicking here​.

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