Biotech firm Benchmark Holdings has reported successful field trials of its next generation sea lice treatment with three of the world’s biggest salmon producers.
Sheffield-based Benchmark said the trials showed 99 per cent efficacy, “excellent” fish welfare and no environmental impact.
The firm also reported successful trials of disease resistant shrimp in Thailand, Vietnam and China as it announced a 13 per cent jump in annual revenue to £152m.
Benchmark said that at constant currency, its genetics division saw a 21 per cent increase in revenue whilst its advanced nutrition division saw a 9 per cent rise and animal health rose 7 per cent for the year to September 30.
Adjusted earnings rose 68 per cent to £17.0m reflecting a 36 per cent increase in genetics and a 22 per cent increase in advanced nutrition.
Six new products were launched, of which two are in genetics and four in advanced nutrition.
The group reported progress in the development of sea bass/bream vaccines with a good performance in large scale trials.
It has started production at its new salmon egg facility in Norway, increasing capacity by 75 per cent to meet growing demand for its products.
It has also launched a joint venture with AquaChile to penetrate world’s second largest salmon market.
The firm’s CEO Malcolm Pye said: “2018 was a successful year for Benchmark. The group achieved good growth in revenues and underlying earnings, and made substantial progress in implementing its strategy.
“Particular highlights in the year included the successful commercial scale trials for our next generation sea lice treatment, the opening of our state of the art salmon egg facility in Norway, and the successful trials for our disease resistant shrimp in three Asian markets.”
He said the growth drivers for the business remain strong, with an increasing need to improve productivity in the growing aquaculture sector to support sustainable food production.
He said that the group’s markets are growing considerably faster than the overall aquaculture market.
The firm said it has started the current financial year trading ahead of the same period last year, and is trading in line with expectations for the full year.
Mr Pye said: “Over the next 18 months we expect to see our investment in a number of areas, such as our next generation sea lice treatment, our disease resistant shrimp, new aquaculture vaccines and probiotics, together with our new facility in Norway, starting to deliver.
“We expect this to result in high growth in revenues, attractive margins and cash generation, which will increase our financial flexibility and deliver attractive shareholder returns.”
Analysts at Pareto Securities said in a note: “Benchmark has started the 2019 financial year stronger than same period last year and is in line with the company’s expectations for the full year.
“Especially the genetics division has started off well due to good demand for salmon eggs, while the advanced nutrition has had a slower start due to a volatile shrimp market.
“In animal health the company plans to extend trials of the sea lice treatment into new markets in 2019.”