Glenisk fire led to ‘very heavy losses’ after record 2020

Organic yogurt producer hopes to have 11 products back on the market soon

Organic yogurt producer, Glenisk incurred "very heavy losses" for 2021 due to the fire that destroyed the firm's production plant last September.

The company's commercial director Emma Walls said it was on course last year to top record 2020 sales before the September 27th fire. Ms Walls was commenting on new accounts showing Glenisk, controlled by the Cleary family, enjoyed its best ever year in business during 2020, when the Covid pandemic took hold.

The Offaly’s company’s pretax profits increased by 45 per cent to €1.92 million, after revenues surged by15 per cent from €24.1 million to €27.8 million in the 12 months to the end of December 2020.

“2020 was a record year for Glenisk. We experienced exceptional growth in sales of organic yogurts, with sharp increases evident from early March as the first Covid-19 lockdown began. The closure of restaurants and food service had an immediate effect on grocery sales,” said Ms Walls.


Ireland revenues totalled €26.73 million, while Europe revenues amounted to €1.07 million.

Glenisk suffered more than four months of non-production after last year’s fire, but laid off no staff and paid both workers and farmers throughout the period.The company has now returned three of its products to the market.

“Demand for these lines has been very strong, as hoped,” said Ms Walls. “They represent our top three selling lines from before the fire. The response from our customers and retail partners has been exceptional. We’re buoyed by the support.”

She said Glenisk expects to have a further eight products in production by early March.

The brand was the Irish yogurt leader before the fire, with a 19 per cent share of the market.

Recover position

“We anticipate it will take Glenisk at least a year to recover its position as we phase products back in and increase our volumes,” said Ms Walls.

“Our goal is to restore pre-fire market share and grow from there. The length of time that takes is very much dependent on the speed with which we get back into manufacturing all core lines and new products to enhance our portfolio, but we don’t anticipate we’ll get back there during 2022.”

Production re-commenced at Glenisk’s interim factory earlier this month. Ms Walls said the company is at design stage for a new carbon neutral facility with additional capacity “to help Glenisk realise our ambitions for growth domestically and in export markets”. The new plant could be operational within 15 months, she said.

The business today employs 90, with staff costs in 2020 totalling €5.17 million. Eight directors served during the year and directors’ pay totalled €1.63 million.

At the end of December 2020, shareholder funds totalled €11.29 million, including accumulated profits of €6.2 million. The business’s cash funds amounted to €5.6 million.

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan is a contributor to The Irish Times