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Ulster Enterprise High 100: Agility serving to commodities big W&R Barnett publish sturdy outcomes

Ulster Business Top 100: Agility helping commodities giant W&R Barnett post strong results

W&R Barnett firmly stays one in all Northern Eire’s most profitable and largest family-owned and run companies.

he group was shaped in 1896 and is presently headed by William Barnett. It’s a enterprise with a number of strands, together with the worldwide commerce in grains and derivatives, molasses buying and selling, animal feed and packaging.

And like different companies it’s needed to pivot and cope with the challenges of Covid-19 and the continued battle in Ukraine.

Claudine Heron is chief govt of the commodity buying and selling arms of the corporate, and oversees companies akin to United Mollases, Barnett Corridor, Precision Liquids and Biosearch.

“Like all companies Covid posed its challenges for us,” Claudine instructed Ulster Enterprise. “There have been some sudden alternatives which have come out of it as nicely.

“The agri-business felt the true lack of demand drag on account of lockdown and the associated bounce because the world opened up once more.

“The packaging sector skilled unparalleled demand arising from that surge in on-line retail and we have been delighted that some investments we had made in Logson [business] have been made on the proper time to service our clients’ wants as finest we may. There have been nonetheless challenges.

“We did endure from the provision chain challenges that have been felt globally, throughout the group.”

W&R Barnett is arguably Northern Eire’s greatest family-owned agency, with turnover of £1.27bn in accordance with its newest set of accounts for W&R Barnett Ltd, whereas it posted pre-tax revenue of £51.3m.

It was efficiency within the Logson a part of the enterprise, which specialises in packaging, that helped the general group see sturdy outcomes, accounting for round half of the profitability.

The general enterprise now boasts a workforce of round 1,600 workers.

In the course of that storm the agency additionally needed to cope with a hearth at one in all its grain storage services in Cork Harbour.

“…however we have been delighted as we had a good enterprise interruption and continuity plan and we have been capable of roll that out with good impact to minimise the affect to clients,” Claudine says.

“The overriding side throughout the group has been agility that the workforce was capable of make use of to finest address that volatility that arose due to Covid.

“Whether or not that was the challenges in truly dealing with workers shortages that arose… on the operational services which have been key due to their provide into key industries.”

And like others within the sector and wider financial system, the continued battle in Ukraine has additionally performed its half in impacting enterprise.

“We’re feeling that affect considerably however in numerous methods,” she says. “You might have that chew of the vitality price will increase and we now have had that added layer of market volatility by way of world commodities.

“We now have needed to react in a short time at brief discover, each by way of managing provide chains and the worth affect of that volatility.

W&R Barnett stays a large of trade right here, however one which continues to be family-led and now in its fourth technology.

“Within the early a part of my profession I labored within the oil trade and the FMCG (fast-moving shopper items) enterprise, so to come back to a household agency was fairly an enormous change for me,” Claudine says.

“The stuff you do see are the private touches, it’s the connectivity they should the broader workforce throughout the enterprise. It’s the funding they’re ready to make for the long-term.

“As a enterprise we’re persevering with to put money into the belongings, within the individuals, and likewise with an actual ESG (environmental, social and governance) lens on what we’re doing.”

On the NI Protocol and the affect of Brexit, Claudine says as a enterprise centered in worldwide buying and selling it was well-placed to attempt to cope with adjustments and challenges.

“We spent 4 years making ready in readiness, situation planning. A number of funding went into that to ensure we have been prepared,” she says.

“You’d additionally count on that as worldwide merchants we must be finest positioned to navigate across the numerous protocols as a result of that’s what we now have to do anyway as we commerce globally.

“On a optimistic observe the NI Protocol a minimum of gave us certainty to know what we needed to cope with. That stated we do recognise that there are some challenges for a lot of companies, and significantly within the agri-food sector that should be handled.” 

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