John Swan falls into red on lower sheep prices

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Livestock auctioneer John Swan & Sons has slumped to a full-year loss following a drop in sheep prices, but said it has seen an improvement in recent trading conditions.

The Aim-quoted firm, which runs markets in Newtown St Boswells in the Borders and Wooler in Northumberland, posted a pre-tax loss of £362,177 for the year to 30 April, compared with a £238,782 profit for the previous year.

Poor weather during the period saw a reduction in sheep prices, which in turn knocked commission at its auctioneering business. Cattle prices “remained strong” but overall numbers were down.

Chairman Alastair Ritchie said the company had also been hit by an increase in professional fees linked to its status as a listed company, but the board has decided to keep the final dividend unchanged at 5p a share.

He added: “Despite an improvement in market conditions in the second half of the year, our auctioneering business was unable to make up the ground lost in the first half.

“However, I am pleased to report that trading in the current year has improved relative to the same period last year.”