Moray copper still maker and fabrication firm Forsyths has opened a division in Ireland to meet “buoyant” demand from the distilling industry there.
The Rothes-based group is involved in a number of projects in the country, including the construction of a new distillery in which U2 rock star Bono is a shareholder.
Richard Forsyth, managing director of the family-run business, said it had launched a facility north of Dublin, where a coppersmith and pipefitters are based.
Mr Forsyth added: “Business has been very buoyant for us in Ireland.
“The famous Bushmills Distillery has just been doubled in production and we are also building a distillery called Monasterevin.
“That’s an interesting one, as one of the shareholders happens to be Bono. It’s quite a big project for us.
“If you go back 20 years, Ireland only had three distilleries and now it has more than 30 and they need servicing and maintaining.”
Covid crisis hit firm’s profits
Mr Forsyth was speaking as the company released results that revealed the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on its business last year.
The figures showed its pre-tax profits fell from an “exceptional” £7m in 2018/19 to £4m in the 12 months to the end of October 2020.
Turnover was also down from £53m to £50m over the period, with international sales contributing £9m to the latest total.
Mr Forsyth said: “Obviously these most recent results suffered and our profits are down about 40-45%, with the bulk of it due to Covid and the upset the pandemic has caused.
“The whole company was shut for a month and had to feed back gradually to open up again. We had overseas contracts that were badly affected by Covid, with staff travelling and quarantining. It was a nightmare for us, quite honestly.
But we remain very robust, with a strong balance sheet. Any earnings we have made are ploughing back into the company and we are developing our warehousing side, Caledonia Casks.”
Forsyths recently shipped a second skid-mounted distillery to China and Mr Forsyth said its activities in the Far East market were “continuing to flourish.”
The company had an average workforce of just over 400 last year.
As well as manufacturing and supplying iconic copper stills and distillation equipment for distillers around the world, Forsyths produces goods for the oil and gas and nuclear industries.
It also owns the station hotel, in Rothes, which Mr Forsyth said had “suffered badly” as a result of the pandemic, before re-opening in June.
There has been a copper works business in Rothes since the mid-1850s and the present chairman’s grandfather, Alexander Forsyth, bought the company in 1933.