North-east shortbread firm Dean’s of Huntly ‘confident’ after profitable year

DIRECTORS of the north-east shortbread firm Dean’s of Huntly have expressed gratitude for a “profitable year” amid the many challenges presented by Covid-19 and say they remain confident for the future despite warning that Brexit may impact commodity prices and margins in the year ahead.

Accounts newly filed at Companies House reveal that the year ending June 30, 2020 was “hugely challenging” for the independent, family-run business with turnover down by 20 per cent from £9.2 million in 2019 to £5.2m as its foodservice and tourism-related sales suffered.

Pre-tax profits fell from £421,149 to £81,021.

The company stated: “Considering the major impact Covid-19 has had on turnover, the directors are content with the results given such an arduous, unprecedented situation

Turnover fell by 20% on the previous year, “largely due to sales drying up across a four-month period.”

Dean’s of Huntly “worked hard” to control costs during the year, and also made use of the coronavirus Government support schemes where appropriate. Gross profit margin, a key performance indicator (KPI) within the businesses, decreased by 5% while net profit, another KPI, fell by 4% during the year.

Its strategic report noted “the balance sheet has ultimately taken a knock during the year and will be under continued pressure” in the year to the end of June 2021 due to the continuing impact of the pandemic.

However, the firm, which employed an average of 125 people during the year compared to 141 the previous year, stated: “The directors remain confident for the future, implementing their strategy to develop new markets, growing both Dean’s own brand and private label opportunities through multiple trading sectors with the addition of new products and continuing to invest in new technology and facilities.”

Dean’s, founded nearly 50 years ago in Helen Dean’s kitchen, said that while trading conditions were improving, key concerns for the coming year continued to be focused around the pressure from Covid and its impact of trading sectors being fully or partially closed.

“Consistent with other businesses in our sector, as a result of both current employment legislation and the uncertainty that Brexit cross-border trading terms may have on commodity prices, the directors realise there will be further pressure on margins for the year ahead,” the company noted.

“The recovery of these input costs will be challenging but the directors continue to focus on maintaining strong control over all costs and driving efficient production to mitigate their impact in order to start the journey back towards greater profitability.”

The maker of premium-quality shortbread, which exports to about 30 countries, including China, the US, Australia and many parts of Europe, is one of several companies in Huntly to support Enterprise Huntly, a new website and app dedicated to promoting local businesses and tourism in and around the Aberdeenshire town.

Bill Dean, managing director of Dean’s of Huntly, said: “The Experience Huntly app and website will be an invaluable resource for Huntly residents, encouraging us to shop local and support our local businesses as everything reopens and we can see some normality returning.”

The initiative, Mr Dean added, had “huge potential to drive positive change for our local economy”.

In April, Dean’s launched a range of shortbread and biscuits in collaboration with multi-award-winning studio Aardman and its popular characters Wallace and Gromit. The new range features five biscuit flavours and three special keepsake tins containing Dean’s all-butter shortbread.

Dean’s of Huntly is also a VisitScotland five-star tourist attraction accommodating a bistro and gift shop, and a “coffee stop” in the car park.

The Herald Scotland

The Herald Scotland

The Herald is a Scottish broadsheet newspaper founded in 1783. The Herald is the longest running national newspaper in the world and is the eighth oldest daily paper in the world. The title was simplified from The Glasgow Herald in 1992