Avara Foods has published its Annual Report & Financial Statement for the year ended 31st May 2020. The company reported a year-on-year increase of five percent in turnover and a £2m increase in earnings before tax in its second full year of trading despite the significant impact of COVID-19 on trade, costs and margins in the final quarter.
Avara’s agility and strong working partnerships with key customers saw the company repurpose raw material and adapt facilities to meet higher demand from the retail sector. This increase compensated in part for the disruption created by hospitality closures during the first national lockdown.
Navigating the challenges COVID-19 presented would not have been possible without the exceptional support from all the company’s employees who, as essential workers, were committed to keeping food supplies moving. With their support, the business implemented comprehensive protection measures, safeguarding procedures and radically overhauled employee benefits and sickness policies to better support colleagues. The company spent over £6m on social distancing measures, new PPE and staff recognition payments during the pandemic, alongside continued enhanced absence pay so colleagues can refrain from work if unwell or required to isolate. Furthermore, Avara has navigated the pandemic without taking advantage of any government schemes or financial assistance programmes.
Significant one-off costs were incurred following the closure of the company’s duck operations, announced in April 2020 which was precipitated by the fragility of the global duck market and further exacerbated by the challenges of COVID-19.
In spite of these challenges, Avara continued to invest significantly to improve operating efficiencies and increase capacity and volumes ahead of rising customer demand.
The year ahead is likely to be turbulent for the food industry. Poultry meat, however, will continue to be a key staple of UK shopping baskets and Avara remains committed to working ever-more closely with its retail and foodservice partners to bring consumers affordable, healthy, good quality food. Despite the ongoing economic uncertainty created by Brexit and COVID-19, with the mitigations and contingencies now deployed, the business anticipates another period of strong growth and further year-on-year improvements in operating performance. Avara will continue to invest in new technology, infrastructure and its people, pressing ahead with capital investment projects and modernisation plans.
Andy Dawkins, Chief Executive Officer at Avara Foods commented, “Despite the challenges 2020 presented, our plans remained on-track and we have delivered more value to customers than ever before - a real credit to all those who work at Avara. In the face of COVID-19, we invested heavily to protect the wellbeing of every single colleague and to ensure the business was stable and resilient. I’m proud by how we have continued to manufacture great products, maintained our high standards and strengthened our customer relationships in these most difficult of times. We anticipate another period of strong growth ahead - as a business we’re agile, ambitious and well-placed to weather the uncertain market conditions created by Brexit and COVID-19.”