Goffs suffers ‘the most challenging’ year in its 155-year history

Ring turnover plummets €69m as Covid hits sales at bloodstock business

Ring turnover at bloodstock auction house Goffs last year plunged by 39 per cent or €69 million to €106 million in “the most challenging” year in the 155-year history of the business.

Goffs group chief executive Henry Beeby said that in a normal year, such a revenue decline "would be bordering on catastrophic". However, he added that the business's decisive actions on costs – which were reduced by €5.3 million – "allowed us to return a profit that looked unlikely at the start of the year".

New accounts filed by Robert J Goff plc with the Companies Office show pretax profits declined by 22 per cent to €1.19 million in the 12 months to the end of March. Net revenues fell 34 per cent from €17.48 million to €11.53 million.

Goffs paid out no dividend but chairwoman Eimear Mulhern said the board would be recommending the payment of a dividend of 3 cent per share at its annual general meeting.


In his statement accompanying the accounts, Mr Beeby said €5.3 million was cut from overheads and costs “by performing a line by line review of every area”.

He added: “Nothing was sacrosanct and that included significant remuneration reductions for every member of the Goffs payroll, all of which was received without complaint or question.”

The company viewed the final result for the year “with an equal measure of relief and satisfaction”, he said.


Mr Beeby said that sales-wise, the biggest disappointment of the year was with the Orby and Sportman's yearling sales, which were relocated to Doncaster in England due to issues of overseas buyers arriving into Ireland. This is usually the auction house's biggest-earning sale of the year.

“We would be remiss not to acknowledge that many felt we made the wrong call with our choice of venue for the sale and results would tend to back up that view,” said Mr Beeby, outlining “a torrid two days of Orby” where sales fell by just shy of €20 million and the average dropped by 35 per cent.

“There is no disguising the disappointing nature of these results and we accept that there is a lot of work to do to rebuild the trust and loyalty of many of our vendors as they did not enjoy the level of trade that they expect from the Orby sale,” said Mr Beeby. He noted the pandemic has accelerated the introduction of the Goffs online sales platform. Since July 2020, €10 million worth of horses have been sold, accepting over 8,200 bids from buyers in 22 countries. “This has been a vital lifeline to us.”

Staff costs fell from €5.29 million to €4.3 million as numbers employed fell from 92 to 81. The staff costs include pay to directors, which last year fell from €1.22 million to €1.08 million. Pay to key management personnel last year fell from €2.87 million to €2.79 million.

At the end of March, Goffs had shareholder funds totalling €33.29 million, which included accumulated profits of €18 million. The firm’s cash funds increased from €8.7 million to €11.8 million.

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan is a contributor to The Irish Times