Salmon pens at Cooke's high-energy site at Skelwick, Orkney. Cooke made a profit of £20.9 m after tax last year.

Cooke Scotland had higher revenue but lower profit last year

Costs reduced Canadian-owned salmon farmer’s operating earnings by 21% compared to 2020

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Orkney and Shetland salmon farmer Cooke Aquaculture Scotland made a post-tax profit of £20.9 million last year, £6.7 m less than in 2020, its recently published annual report for 2021 shows.

Operating profit was £30.5 m, down by around 21% from £38.6 m in 2020. Although turnover grew to £176.7 m (2020: £170.7 m), production costs increased more to £133.5 m (£120.3 m).

Pre-tax profit was £25.9 m (£34.2 m) and Cooke paid just under £5 m (£6.6 m) in tax on that figure.

Sales in the UK accounted for £56.3 m of Cooke’s turnover, with the company earning £96.6 m from sales to the rest of Europe and a further £23.7 m from other exports markets.

£11.6m wage bill

Cooke paid £11.64 m (£11.46 m) in wages, social security costs and pension contributions in 2021. The average monthly number of employees was 293 (307).

Directors earned a total of £485,382 (£500,947), with the highest paid director receiving renumeration of £225,453 (£228,000).

The fish farmer paid £6 m in dividends to its sole owner, Cooke Aquaculture UK Holdings Limited, which is owned by Canadian company Cooke Aquaculture Inc.

That figure is much lower than in 2020, when the parent company took a dividend of £21.3 m.

In their introduction to the annual report, Cooke Scotland’s directors said they had begun monitoring a number of environmental key performance indicators (KPIs) in 2021 to ensure a sustainable business model.

Monitoring emissions

Scope 1 (self-generated) greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions were 6,376 tonnes (carbon dioxide equivalent), while Scope 2 (indirect emissions from purchased energy) GHGs were 351 tCO2e. Total GHGs amounted to 26,910 tCO2e, which equates to 0.86 kWh per kilo of salmon processed.

Cooke Scotland’s accident incident rate of 287 in 2021 was just over half the level of the Health and Safety Executive’s reported rate of 441 for the fishing and aquaculture sector that year. The number of accidents/incidents at Cooke last year was 27, down from 35 in 2020.

“Our commitment continues to be to ensure we provide a safe environment for our employees,” wrote the directors.

They added that Cooke also maintained quality and operational metrics such as feed conversion rate, cost per smolt, farmgate cost, and processing cost per kilo, but these weren’t being published due to their commercial sensitivity.

“Fish numbers remain healthy, and we continue to look to grow the number of fish through new sites and improved health,” wrote the directors.