Mackie’s of Scotland said major contracts for its chocolate and a market shift towards premium ice-cream boosted sales during the year to May 31, 2016.
The dairy firm also grew operating profits as it celebrated 30 years of making ice-cream at the 1,600-acre family farm at Westertown, near Rothiernorman in Aberdeenshire.
Mackie’s is now on track for an August opening for its new ice-cream parlour Aberdeen city centre.
Managing director Mac Mackie – one of the firm’s three sibling owners – said yesterday the new shop in Marischal Square would help to continue the legacy of his late father, Maitland Mackie, who founded the ice-cream business and later took it into crisp-making, chocolate production and renewable-energy.
Mr Mackie added it was his father’s “no change, no chance” approach which led to the construction of four wind turbines and a solar farm, allowing the firm to become carbon-positive.
“This move into Marischal Square will continue that legacy into 2017 and beyond,” he said, adding: “It’s thanks to the continuing efforts of our 71 staff that we can continue to grow in a highly competitive market sector and which gives us the opportunities to take on a chance like the new ice-cream parlour.”
Increased costs for packaging, freight and labour wiped out any gain from lower ingredient prices in 2015/16 and contributed to an 18% fall in pre-tax profits to £1.49million.
The balance sheet was also impacted by the firm’s £1million-plus investment in new equipment for ice-cream, chocolate and packaging production which is expected to “yield efficiencies in future years”.
Mackie’s reported a slight increase in operating profits, to £1.24million, but warned margins this year were being squeezed by increases in the cost of key ingredients such as sugar and cream.
“This will most likely reduce the profit from existing business in the current year,” the firm added.
Turnover grew to £12.16million in the latest period, from £11.43million the year before.
In a review of last year’s trading in the accounts, Mr Mackie said the ice-cream parlour – the firm’s first foray into direct retailing, was an “exciting new venture”.
He added: “It gives us the opportunity to showcase new ice-cream flavours and products directly to our customers.
“It will also provide a useful source of feedback on products that could then be converted into new lines for sale through our existing customer base of major retailers.”
Mackie’s said its chocolate range, launched in 2014 and now made in a £600,000 custom-built factory on the farm, was proving a big hit with consumers.
Finance director Gerry Stephens added: “Contracts with Co-op, Tesco and Sainsbury’s have ensured a 74% increase in chocolate sales which is in line with our forecasts and target to reach £4million sales in chocolate by 2020.”
While the firm is steadily growing its reputation as a chocolate-maker, it already boasts an 8% share of the UK-wide market for all take home, premium ice-cream.
More than half of its ice-cream sales are outside Scotland, with exports to countries including Australia, South Korea, Canada and Dubai accounting for about 7% of the total.
The company is also proud of its environmental credentials – it is now 70%-powered by its own electricity from wind, solar and biomass resources, with surplus electricity sold to renewables firm Good Energy.