SIMPSONS Malt has reported an increase in pre-tax profits to £9.8 million from £7.5m, accounts newly filed at Companies House show.

The figures revealed the firm, which manufactures malt and trades as an agricultural merchant, had a turnover of £168m for the year ended December 31 2019 set against £156m for the same period the previous year.

Directors’ emoluments rose to £2.9m from £1.6m although this included a cash-settled share-based incentive plan of £1.5m.

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The highest paid director received £854,000, against £477,000 the previous year.

The historic family firm, which can trace its roots back to 1862, recorded 288 employees in 2019, up from 263 the year before. Wages and salaries sat at £11.2m against £9.8m.

A wet autumn and cereal prices created challenging conditions.

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Graeme Hogg, company secretary, said in the directors’ report the harvest was “noted for exceptional yield and quality across the UK with most cereal values decreasing as a result”.

“This, together with an exceptionally wet autumn, resulted in challenging trading conditions during the second half of 2019. As the merchanting business heads into 2020 it is well placed to service grower needs in a sector that could experience a record sowing of spring cereals.”