Browns Food Group receives funding for expansion

BROWNS Food Group is planning to cook up further growth at home and abroad, including new export markets, having secured a funding package of up to £20 million from Bank of ­Scotland.

Wayne Godfrey says the past year has been key for growth. Picture: Peter Devlin
Wayne Godfrey says the past year has been key for growth. Picture: Peter Devlin

The three-year facility is to support ongoing strategic growth and investment, and the company said it is looking at a range of opportunities, with some “exciting new projects in the pipeline”.

It said it has been experiencing prolonged organic growth after its 2013 purchase of the Halls brand. That business joined its portfolio to sit alongside the likes of Borders Gourmet, Tarbert Fine Foods, Lanarkshire smoked salmon firm Lion Speciality and East Lothian poultry supplier Fenton Barns.

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Browns chief executive Wayne Godfrey said last year had been a key 12 months for the business “in terms of driving organic growth and integrating the Halls brand further into our portfolio”.

He added: “Although we have experienced market challenges, we have worked with our customers and suppliers to combat the margin pressures, and through better line efficiencies and controls, turnover and operating profit has continued to rise.”

Turnover grew by 4.4 per cent from the prior 12 months to reach £151.7m, with operating profit increasing by 6.3 per cent to £7.6m.

Browns said it is still investing in its operations, including the expansion of its Brown Brothers Manufacturing site at Kirkconnel, Dumfriesshire, where the group is based.

This will allow for greater growth capacity, and was a “significant” part of its £5.8m capital expenditure programme across the group last year, it said.
The company is also intending to invest further in product innovation, and Godfrey said this area is “key to our ongoing business strategy, and we’ll be looking to put plans into action in the coming year as we aim to achieve further growth both at home and abroad”.

The group also said the UK will remain a key growth market in the next few years, while last year its sales in Europe grew by 17 per cent to reach £847,000.

Outlining the firm’s overseas plans, Godfrey said: “We are excited to have extended into new markets and this will be a focus for the future. We’ll continue to monitor our exporting programme as the demand continues to be felt in international markets.”

The group was started in 1885 by the Browns family, who opened a small butcher shop in Biggar. It initially distributed its products by horse and cart throughout Lanarkshire and the surrounding areas.

The Godfrey family bought the business 100 years later, and today it operates from seven manufacturing sites to offer a range of quality cooked meats.