SCOTTISH potato specialist Albert Bartlett has underlined the challenges posed by Brexit and cost inflation amid the continued fallout from the pandemic after enjoying a surge in profits.

Accounts for Albert Bartlett & Sons (Airdrie) newly filed at Companies House show the firm made £12.1 million profit before tax in the year ended May 31, compared with £7.8m in the preceding year.

The privately-owned firm grew turnover to £193.7m in the latest year, from £177.2m. It sells potatoes under the Albert Bartlett brand and supplies retailers’ own-label operations and also produces chilled and frozen foods such as chips and hash browns.

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Writing in the accounts the company’s chairman Ronnie Bartlett said it had achieved a satisfactory trading performance despite the impact of the coronavirus crisis.

“Being part of the critical food supply chain during this period has presented a number of significant challenges to our business,” noted Mr Bartlett, whose grandfather founded the business in 1948.

He added: “In common with other suppliers, we rapidly had to adapt our production sites to keep our employees safe while still playing our part in in ensuring continuity of food supply.

“This challenge is ongoing and we remain vigilant to the changing requirements of the pandemic as it evolves.”

The accounts show that the firm received Government grants worth £402,685 in the latest year under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

The average monthly number of employees increased to 1,096 in the latest year, from 1,073.

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Regarding risks and uncertainties facing the business, Mr Bartlett noted: “The impact of Brexit and increasing cost inflation have been heavily felt in 2021 in our business and the food industry.

“Reduced labour availability, both operationally and within supply chain, rising commodity and raw material prices and increasing utility costs have brought with them significant cost pressures.”

Mr Bartlett noted the company had continued to invest in its chilled operations during the latest year and has relaunched the Spud U Like jacket potato operation with TV chef James Martin. It is excited by Spud U Like’s new trading formats and menus.

The company paid £3.6m dividends in the latest year, against £1.5m in the preceding period.

It is a subsidiary of Albert Bartlett Holdings, which owns Scotty Brand.