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Loch Duart sales director and co-founder Andy Bing at one of the company's sites. Loch Duart made an increased profit of £1.335m in its 2020 financial year and harvested a record volume of fish. Photo: Loch Duart.
Loch Duart sales director and co-founder Andy Bing at one of the company's sites. Loch Duart made an increased profit of £1.335m in its 2020 financial year and harvested a record volume of fish. Photo: Loch Duart.

Sutherland and Uists salmon farmer Loch Duart made an increased profit of almost £1.335 million in its 2020 financial year ending March 31 last year after harvesting a record tonnage, it revealed in its annual report. Loch Duart, which produces around 6,000 tonnes of salmon a year, didn’t specify the exact amount.

The company, which was bought by US sustainable investment company Vision Ridge Partners in February 2020, increased turnover to £40.3m from £34.6m in 2019 and profit from £1.1m in 2019.

Wages, social security costs and pension costs amounted to £4,551,685 in 2020, up from £4,117,147 in the previous financial year. The company paid £462,069 in tax, including £219,186 that had previously been deferred.

Adapted rapidly

Loch Duart said that since the end of the 2020 financial year it has, along with every other business, suffered the impact of Covid-19 on the market.

“The company has always prioritised the food service sector across many different countries. As a result, the company has had to adapt rapidly to a changed world and its financial performance has suffered due to the costs of doing so,” wrote the firm’s directors in the report.

“Against that background, the company’s new owners have backed the strategic plans of the business, making the key post year-end purchase of a fish processing plant which is now operational.”

The directors added that despite the impact of Covid-19 on salmon prices, “the prices achieved allowed the operating budget for the year to be exceeded and year end stocks placed the company in a credible position from which to start the following year”.

R&D investment

The report said it was continuing efforts to explore the potential for reopening operations in Atlantic Canada but that “any such possibility is not yet predictable in timing or scale”.

Loch Duart was granted licence renewals for two farm sites in Nova Scotia last year, but told Fish Farming Expert it had no plans to start farming the sites.

In the report the directors said the company has continued to invest heavily in research and development to improve various areas of aquaculture farming, including significant investment in farming infrastructure and people development. “This developing strategy, as well as achieving the company’s highest ever volume, also enables similar volume in future,” wrote the directors.

Hybrid barge

Loch Duart’s investments include a hybrid feed barge that uses both diesel and battery power and is due for delivery from Scale AQ in the spring.

It has also bought a state-of-the-art steel cage assembly from Canadian company Poseidon Ocean Systems.

The cage assembly will comprise 14 pens that are 24m x 24m square and will arrive in Scotland next month. Poseidon’s Scotland agent, Trimara Services, will assemble the units in March and April ready for stocking in June.