Revenue tops £151m at Sheffield biotech Benchmark

Sheffield-based Benchmark Holdings, the aquaculture health, genetics and nutrition firm, said its revenue rose 8% to £151.5 million in the year ended September 30, 2018, and adjusted profit before tax rose 19% to 5.6 million.

Statutory loss before tax rose to £13.7 million from £8.1 million.

Total investment in R&D was £19.4 million, and the firm had £32.7 million capital expenditure in new production facilities and investment associated with field trials of next generation sea lice treatment.

Benchmark CEO Malcolm Pye said: “2018 was a successful year for Benchmark.

“The group achieved good growth in revenues and underlying earnings, and made substantial progress in implementing its strategy.

“Particular highlights in the year included the successful commercial scale trials for our next generation sea lice treatment, the opening of our state of the art salmon egg facility in Norway, and the successful trials for our disease resistant shrimp in three Asian markets.

“The growth drivers for our business remain strong, with the increasing need for solutions that improve productivity in the growing aquaculture sector to support sustainable food production meaning that the areas of the market we address are growing considerably faster than the overall aquaculture market. 

“The group has started the current financial year trading ahead of the same period last year, and is trading in line with expectations for the full year. 

“Trading has commenced strongly in genetics, with high demand for our disease and sea lice resistant salmon eggs.  

“Our advanced nutrition business in shrimp has started relatively slowly due to temporary volatility in the global shrimp market, but the outlook from spring onwards is positive.  

“In animal health, we are planning to extend trials of our next generation sea lice treatment into new markets in 2019 and we are making substantial progress towards establishing a partnership for our companion animal products. 

“Over the next 18 months we expect to see our investment in a number of areas, such as our next generation sea lice treatment, our disease resistant shrimp, new aquaculture vaccines and probiotics, together with our new facility in Norway, starting to deliver, resulting in high growth in revenues, attractive margins and cash generation, which will increase our financial flexibility and deliver attractive shareholder returns.”