Bridge of Allan-based Castle View Corporate Holdings racks up record loss on back of Covid-19 - but now trading profitably again

Castle View Corporate Holdings (CVCH), whose remit includes sports-centre management and food-production, has posted record losses in the first full year of the Covid-19 pandemic – but cheered the fact that it is now trading profitably again.

The Bridge of Allan-based business, which was previously known as Castle View Ventures and whose interests also encompass weight-management, has announced that following several years of “substantial” pre-tax profits, it has recorded a pre-tax loss of £12.05 million in the year to March 31, 2021.

Sales came in at £107.64m, compared to £261.04m in the previous year, and, to offset the impact of the drop in turnover, the group made “extensive” use of the UK Government’s furlough scheme. At one point more than 12,000 employees were being supported by the initiative, it said.

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From left: directors David Bibby, Martin Bell and Mark Drysdale. Picture: contributed.

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Group MD Martin Bell said: “In total the group was able to operate its facilities for fewer than four months during the year. All activities of our main subsidiary, Sports and Leisure Management (SLM) group, were brought to a halt on March 20, 2020, when the Prime Minister ordered the immediate closure of all leisure facilities.

“The initial closure came to an end on July 25, but after a summer of restricted operation all facilities were fully closed for the month of November. This was again followed by a short period of restricted operations before a phased closure around Christmas, which lasted for the remainder of the financial year.

“During the closure period SLM group relied heavily on its partnerships with local authorities, and in many cases both through contractual mechanisms and an understanding that the problem had to be shared across the partnership, enhanced management fees were received, which offset some of the effects of the closures.

"Despite this, [SLM] turnover fell by 62 per cent from £247m to £95m. Strenuous efforts were made to reduce expenditure in all areas of operation, and together with the measures set out above it was possible to limit the loss suffered in the year [by this division] to £11m compared to 2020 profits of £9.4m.”

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Reduction

The group added that another subsidiary, Cambuslang-based UIN Foods, was also adversely affected by Covid-19 with retailers rationalising counter lines in reaction to changing customer demand. This led to a major volume reduction, aggravated also by production disruption arising from staff absence due to the pandemic.

As a result, UIN Foods’ turnover fell by £2.04m and led to a pre-tax loss of £176,872. The focus for the current year, said Mr Bell, “will be around growing volume with existing and new customers while maintaining a Covid-safe and efficient working environment.”

He continued: “The 12 months to March 2021 was a year like no other and while we are by no means wholly out of the pandemic, we anticipate a steady improvement in the business climate and have already seen a return to profitability.

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“We can only wish for better times ahead and the near-elimination of the Covid-19 virus, which has caused such devastation to all businesses in our sector. On the whole, I am confident that optimism will win the day.”

CVCH had in May forecast a major loss in the year to March 31, but said it was optimistic about the easing of lockdown restrictions boosting its balance sheet.

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