SIMPSONS Malt has enjoyed a surge in sales and profits amid booming demand from Scotch whisky distillers, although the wet autumn last year posed challenges.

Berwickshire-based Simpsons Malt increased operating profits by 8% in 2012, to £11.6 million, compared with £10.7m in the preceding year. Turnover increased by 17%, to £157.6m, from £134.6m.

In the latest accounts for the family-owned firm, directors wrote that volume growth in the malting business was driven by increased demand from the Scotch whisky market.

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"The prospects for the group's malt markets are positive, particularly with our malting barley requirements well covered and our production capacity fully sold," they wrote.

The directors added: "Our merchanting divisions will continue to experience a difficult trading environment as the issues from one of the worst UK harvests and autumn sowing seasons in living memory unwind, namely reduced farm incomes and reduced cereal availability."

But the directors said the company was well equipped to meet those challenges and to support its growers.

Simpsons paid £1,164,000 in dividends last year, which was its 150th in business. It paid dividends totalling £707,000 in 2011. The directors' pay bill increased to £1,704,756 from £1,430,309.

The company is chaired by Simon Simpson, of the fourth generation of the malting family.

His son Richard has been appointed vice chairman.