Profits fall at Blackpool sweets firm

Tangerine Confectionery's former Clifton Road site
Tangerine Confectionery's former Clifton Road site

Blackpool sweet maker Tangerine Confectionery has seen its profits sour, plunging from £9.44m to £3.26m in 2016.

The company which has its site at Vicarage Road, said it was hit during the year by a combination of difficulties – dealing with the closure of its former Clifton Road site in Blackpool in 2015, problems with the high exchange rate and the growing debate about sugary foods.

The popcorn, Refreshers, Black Jacks and Mojos maker said turnover fell for 2016 from £139.3m from £151.9m the year before.

The company is the UK’s largest producer of sugar confectionery and popcorn and said it had invested to sustain and upgrade manufacturing operations during the period.

It said it had seen good sales for Butterkist popcorn, branded sugar and its international businesses but retailer own brand business was hit by a reduction in some contracts and removal of sweets on sale a till areas.

Directors in the annual financial report said: “The high exchange rates at the end of 2015 and the first half of 2016 resulted in penetration into the UK from European suppliers and uncertainties caused by the debate on sugar led to the reduced promotion of sweets in the trade.

“The production difficulties incurred following the closure of a factory in March 2015 were still impacting performance at the beginning of 2016, however these have now been completely overcome.

“Substantial capital investment in the business continued in 2016. The £6m spent in the year represented a continued commitment to the future growth of the business.”

They added that they expected the sector to remain competitive in 2017 with “the growing debate on the cost of obesity”.

As in 2015, the directors did not recommend paying a dividend. The company received a £125,000 grant from Blackpool council in 2015 to help transfer machinery from Clifton Road to vicarage Road and 35 jobs from the closing factory were saved.

The firm also has factories at Cleckheaton, Pontefract, Liverpool and York.