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Rise in turnover and profit at Castle View

Castle View International, the Stirling-based leisure management and food services group, achieved big rises in turnover and profits in its first year under new owner Martin Bell.

Mr Bell, son of founder Frank who died in early 2011, took full control in June with the help of a £10 million funding package from Barclays. But meanwhile the business had stormed ahead in the year to March, with turnover up from £77m to £87m, and pre-tax profit jumping from £1.5m to £2.3m, according to accounts lodged at Companies House.

The sports and leisure management division grabbed five new contracts during the year to take total centres managed to 78, boosting turnover by 16% to £72m and profitability to £2.4m.

The group picked up a third successive leisure operator of the year award from the Fitness Industry Association in 2012.

Mr Bell said: "We have fully addressed the loss-making areas of the business and have managed to do well on the back of the growing outsourcing market and a focus on value products in Uni Foods."

Scottish councils have so far proved resistant to outsourcing, but Mr Bell said: "We are hopeful that the market will start to develop in time".

Supply Direct, a food supply and catering consultancy for the public sector, saw profits slide 46% to £494,000 in what the group said was a challenging year. But Mr Bell said: "That is a business we still see a strong future in, bringing cost control to institutional catering organisations such as the NHS and in schools."

Castle View International's food production business, Cambuslang-based Uni Foods, which manufactures pizzas for leading supermarkets, increased turnover by 23% to around £8m and moved back into profit from the previous year's loss. The business employed 117 at the year end and has created significant new jobs in the past eight months.

Mr Bell said: "The outlook is very positive for the forthcoming year with the business having forged strong alliances with major supermarkets in the UK and Ireland."

The group said My Best Deal, an online procurement auction business launched in early 2011, had "racked up substantial losses with virtually no sales" and was closed in July. Former director David Paterson, who developed the concept, told The Herald after he was made redundant in July that the venture had a client base of 250 buyers and several hundred suppliers, and that Castle View had promised to invest in the business for three to five years.

Mr Bell said: "The concept didn't seem to be well received, we just couldn't generate any sales.

"We did try to use it internally but it was badly received by other parts of the organisation."

Castle View International moved from debt of £248,000 to cash of £1.67m during the year. Its finance costs dropped from £869,000 to £635,000, and shareholder funds grew from £6.5m to £7.3m. The highest paid director, assumed to be Mr Bell, picked up £386,309, slightly down on the previous year.

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