Benchmark takes a hit as lockdowns force restaurants to close

Benchmark said the salmon industry has been relatively resilient to Covid-19Benchmark said the salmon industry has been relatively resilient to Covid-19
Benchmark said the salmon industry has been relatively resilient to Covid-19
Biotech firm Benchmark Holdings, which develops vaccines to keep fish healthy rather than using antibiotics to treat disease, said the shrimp industry has taken a significant hit from Covid-19 after lockdowns forced restaurants and hotels to close.

The Sheffield-based firm said the shrimp market underpins over 70 per cent of revenues in its Advanced Nutrition division.

More than 60 per cent of the global demand for shrimp comes from the hotel, restaurant and catering sector, which has suffered drastically from the global lockdown.

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In contrast, the sea bass and sea bream market, which make up the balance ofthe Advanced Nutrition division's revenues, showed more resilience.

The firm expects the challenging shrimp conditions to continue over the coming year.

Despite the impact the pandemic has had on the shrimp market, Benchmark said the year to September 30 has been one of transformation and achievements.

The group completed its restructuring and said it has achieved a strong financial position and shown operational resilience to Covid-19.

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Revenues from continuing operations fell 15 per cent to £106m following a 22 per cent fall in Advanced Nutrition revenues, mainly caused by the impact of Covid-19 on global shrimp markets.

Adjusted EBITDA from continuing operations was £14.5m, down from £21.3m the previous year reflecting lower revenues and margins in Advanced Nutrition, partially offset by Genetics and a reduction in R&D and operating costs from measures taken to mitigate the impact of Covid-19.

Benchmark said the salmon industry has been relatively resilient to Covid-19 and its salmon genetics business has been resilient to recent short term volatility in the salmon market. People are happy to eat salmon at home, but tend to see shrimp as a restaurant delicacy.

Benchmark's chairman, Peter George, said: “2020 was a transformational year for Benchmark.

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"With the restructuring complete, we now have a streamlined Group focused on the three core aquaculture areas of Genetics, Advanced Nutrition and Health, each with substantial growth opportunities and long term positive drivers which give us optimism for the future. Our focus remains on becoming a profitable, cash generative group.

“Against a very challenging backdrop this year with Covid-19, I am proud of the group’s resilience, both operationally and financially, and this reflects well on the commitment and contribution of Benchmark employees.”

Trond Williksen, CEO, added: “2020 was characterised by the successful delivery of an ambitious and necessary restructuring programme, and by our response and resilience to the challenges brought by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Our results reflect a mixed performance across our business areas with a strong performance in Genetics offset by the effects of the restructuring programme and the impact of Covid-19, especially on the global shrimp markets.

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"Moving into 2021, our focus is on becoming profitable and cash generative. Following the restructuring we are well-positioned in an exciting aquaculture industry, and we have significant potential to be realised in the years to come.”

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