By Scott Wright

THE company which distributes Buckfast, the controversial tonic wine, has reported a rise in profits as it continued to feel the effects of the pandemic and came under pressure from rising costs.

J Chandler & Company (Buckfast) increased pre-tax profits to £4.2 million from £3.6m in the year ended March 31, accounts newly filed at Companies House show. Profits went up as sales of Buckfast, which counts Scotland among its biggest markets, grew to £48.2m from £46.4m.

Buckfast can trace its roots back to a traditional recipe employed by French monks at Buckfast Abbey in Devon in the late 19th century, though its current form came into being after the monks joined forces with J Chandler & Co, a London-based wine merchant, in the 1920s. It is now sold widely across the UK, predominantly in the off-trade, and in a range of international markets.

Writing in the accounts, director JC Joyce states: “When I wrote to you last year, the Covid-19 pandemic had resulted in a difficult year for us all. Twelve months on, we have faced another challenging year as the pandemic continued to impact our lives and business and we started to feel the inflationary pressures on our costs.

“The team at J Chandler & Company (Buckfast) Ltd have continued to apply a flexible agile approach enabling us to adapt successfully to the challenging environment. One example that immediately benefitted the company the company came from the production department who managed to find a window of opportunity between the lockdowns to install our new depalletisers. The results were immediate with increased throughput as well as the ability to run both lines simultaneously without the need for additional staff.”

The director highlights “unprecedented raw material inflationary pressures”, changes to duty and other regulations, the rising cost of living and increased competition in the UK among the principal risks and uncertainties faced by the Andover-based company.

“The results for the year and the financial position at the year-end were considered satisfactory by the directors,” JC Joyce adds.

The accounts show the company derived £47.6m of its turnover from the UK over the year, up from £45.7m. Sales in the rest of Europe dipped to £536,733 from £577,288 and edged up in the rest of the world to £126,775 from £115,120.

It employed an average of 25 people, down from 28, while payroll costs increased to £2.96m from £2.92m.