Covid-hit dog food group Arrow sees profits tumble 39%

Group’s Irish Dog Foods currently closed due to Covid-19 outbreak at Naas processing plant

Meat-processing group Arrow, which had one of its plants shut down this month due to a Covid-19 outbreak among staff, saw pretax profits slump 39 per cent to €11.6 million last year.

More than 50 cases of Covid-19 have been detected among workers at the Arrow Group-owned Irish Dog Foods plant in Naas, Co Kildare. The plant remains shut.

New consolidated accounts filed by the Arrow Group show the fall in profits came despite a 7 per cent rise in sales to €591.45 million in the year to December 29th last.

The group, which is headquartered in Co Waterford, is owned by brothers Peter, John and Michael Queally, who also own Dawn Meats.

Numbers employed by the group hit 2,021 last year, with more than 130 staff added to the operation. Staff costs rose to €82.8 million from €76.5 million the previous year.

On the group’s 2019 performance, the directors said it had been a “positive trading year”.

“The increase [in revenue] is attributable to increased activity with new and existing customers and new product lines across all key markets,” they said.

Underlying profit had been impacted by asset impairments, they said. “However, the group continues to benefit from positive customer sentiment and an increased market share.”

Addressing the business impact of Covid-19, directors said: “We are closely monitoring the potential impact of Covid-19 on our 2020 financial results and cash flows, and have prepared a detailed risk assessment and projections in light of this. Our top priority remains the health and safety of our staff and customers.”

The accounts were signed off before the Irish Dog Foods shutdown.

The group said in the report that it was taking “a number of measures to reduce any potential impact, including adjusting capacity to current demand and preserving cash”.

“Measures have been taken to ensure operations adhere to current HSE guidelines,” they said, adding that directors believed “the group is well placed to manage the impact of Covid-19 and indeed manage all business risks successfully”.

The group last year paid out a dividend of €1.85 million, after a dividend payout of €7.5 million in 2018. Pay for six directors – mostly members of the Queally family – totalled €927,675.

The directors said that in light of the impact of Covid-19 and Brexit, the group would continue to focus on the control of costs and broadening its customer base across all regions.

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan is a contributor to The Irish Times