Higher profits give Haughey fortune an £8m boost

Willie Haughey of City Refrigeration Holdings
Willie Haughey of City Refrigeration Holdings
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The Haughey family behind City Refrigeration have pocketed dividends of about £8 million following a jump in profits at the Glasgow-based business.

Growth among customers in the UK and Australia led to a 15 per cent rise in turnover at the group’s facilities management and cleaning services arm, which makes up the bulk of its sales.

The division, which counts Asda, Booker Wholesale and House of Fraser among its clients, generated turnover of £326.3m in the year to the end of December, accounts filed at Companies House showed. That compares with £326.3m the previous year.

Writing in the company’s annual report, the directors said: “The prospects for 2014 remain strong and, despite the challenging market place, the board is confident that the ongoing investment made during 2013 will support future growth.”

Turnover at the project services division, which includes the installation of air conditioning, refrigeration and security systems, rose to £81.2m, up from £70.7m in 2012.

“Operating margins increased in 2013, and although pressure is expected to continue from the market place, the board is confident margin levels will be maintained in 2014,” the firm said.

City Refrigeration was founded by Lord Haughey, pictured, and his wife Susan in 1985 to supply cellar cooling systems to pubs. The firm now employs almost 12,300 people, an increase of more than 200 on the previous year. The rising headcount saw the group’s total bill for wages and social security costs expand to £210m, from £189m a year earlier, while the pay package for the highest-paid director remained unchanged at £550,000.

Dividends of just over £8m were paid out last year, up from £7m in 2012, as pre-tax profits soared 53 per cent to £11.4m. Earnings were boosted by a one-off gain of £2m from the sale of intellectual property rights. Excluding that exceptional benefit, operating profits grew almost 27 per cent to £9m.

Haughey, who describes himself as a “lifetime supportor” of the Labour Party, was knighted for services to business and charitable causes in 2012, and was made a life peer last year.

Speaking after his ennoblement, he said: “I realise how fortunate I have been in my life and I hope to use my peerage to address the issues that matter.

“Over the years I have seen social injustice blight the lives of young and old in Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales. I will do my bit to promote social justice for everyone whatever their background, sex, religion, education, employment history or colour.”

Haughey and his wife are major supporters of initiatives to encourage more entrepreneurs in Scotland, including Entrepreneurial Spark, which has developed business accelerator programmes in Ayrshire, Edinburgh and Glasgow. City Refrigeration made charitable donations of £594,000 during 2013.