Fisherman’s Friend focuses on future after a year of losses

Fleetwood’s famous Fisherman’s Friend is looking towards the future after a year when results were hit hard by the pandemic and it lost its much-loved leader, Doreen Lofthouse OBE.

By Tim Gavell
Thursday, 19th May 2022, 3:30 pm

The firm which makes the famous lozenges sold the world over, saw its turnover in the year ending December 31, 2021 plunge by 36 per cent from £51.8m in 2020 to £33.1m as Covid-19 had a “significant effect on trading levels”.

It meant that the firm’s operating profit fell from £3.4m to a loss of £5.2m in the 12 month period and pre-tax profit fell from £3m to a loss of £4.7m.

The company said it had chosen to protect the jobs of its staff during the lockdown periods, making use of the Government support and furlough scheme, but still had to cut jobs from 379 to 334.

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The Fisherman's Friend factory near Fleetwood marina

It said that the lockdowns meant “the level of orders received was down significantly on previous years” and that production levels in tonnes, fell from 4,956 in 2020 to 3,561 in 2021, a drop of 28 per cent, as a direct impact of the reduction in orders.

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But the company said that despite the tough year, it was looking firmly to the future now that global lockdowns have ended.

Bosses in the annual statement said: “We remain fully committed to the future and as such, our capital expenditure for the year is £5.2m which in the main relates to new production facilities and upgraded machinery.

Singer Alfie Boe receiving a commemorative tin of Fisherman's Friend from Tony, Doreen, Duncan and Linda Lofthouse at the Fleetwood factory. Alfie recorded a series of popular TV commercials for the lozenge company in 2016

"Furthermore we are progressing with plans for the land opposite our factory which gives us an option in the future to develop a state of the art production factory to work hand in hand with our current factory, which should enable us to realize our plans to improve the efficiency of both the manufacturing and distribution process.

They also revealed that they were looking to the future by working on new products for the coming year.

A spokesman today said: “As a forward-thinking business with a presence in more than 50 countries across the globe, we are always looking for new opportunities. We will look forward to sharing further details about our plans in the near future.”

The firm also said that while it South East Asia market was particularly badly hit during the pandemic the significant amount of trade within the EU was only slight hampered by delays at borders and price rises, and the trade agreement reached with the EU at the end of 2020 enabled it to trade tariff free.

They said it remained to be seen whether Russia’s attack on Ukraine will have any impact on trade.