ALEXANDER Inglis and Son, the grain merchant led by former Scotland rugby captain Jim Aitken has enjoyed a surge in profits helped by a successful investment in a commuter belt land venture.

Accounts for the Aitken family-owned firm newly filed at Companies House show Alexander Inglis made £4.1 million profit before tax in 2018 compared with £1.8m in the preceding period.

Revenues increased to £91.4m from £75.1m.

Writing in the accounts Mr Aitken said: “The group has continued to produce strong results despite facing a challenging external environment in the light of Brexit and the uncertainties it brings.”

Mr Aitken bought the business after achieving sporting renown for leading the Scotland rugby team to a Grand Slam in 1984.

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He said the 2018 results reflected the margins and prices generally available in cereal trading.

The company supplies firms in the whisky industry, which has enjoyed a boost as a result of the growing popularity of Scotch in overseas markets.

The growth in profits in 2018 also reflected the benefit of £2.9m income in respect of the company’s interest in associated undertakings.

This appears to refer to dividend income received from the East Lothian Developments venture formed by Alexander Inglis with transport tycoon Sir Brian Souter’s investment business.

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In February 2018 Souter Investments announced the venture had sold over 25 acres of land by the A1 in East Lothian to Persimmon Homes and Barratt.

Souter Investments noted then the venture had won planning permission for the construction of 1,450 new homes, a commercial centre and a new primary school on a 160-acre site, making it one of the largest current residential developments in Scotland.

In the 2018 accounts for Alexander Inglis directors said they had increased the valuation of the group’s interest in East Lothian Developments by £3.9m to £11m, based on a report by Deloitte Real Estate. They said they intended to dispose of the holding.