East Coast Bakehouse, the high-profile Co Louth biscuit maker founded by Jacob Fruitfield’s former boss Michael Carey and Dragons’ Den star Alison Cowzer, is in talks to restructure almost $6 million of bank debt. The talks come after a €3.6m loss in its 2021 fiscal year brought cumulative losses to nearly €21m. It followed a €4.9m loss the business posted in the previous financial year.
peaking independent irishCarey said he is confident an agreement can be reached with the lender. The east coast banker is Ulster Bank.
“Discussions about that restructuring continue, but it seems pretty healthy at the moment,” he said. “We will get a satisfactory solution on this.”
Newly filed accounts for the biscuit maker show that the loss recorded in the 12 months to the end of February last year brought its cumulative losses to €20.7m.
Carey, the former president of Bord Bia that established East Coast Bakehouse in 2015, declined to say whether the company had also made a loss in the 12 months to February of this year.
The firm raised millions of euros from backers including Donard Gaynor, the current chairman of Glanbia and a former executive at US drinks firm Beam. Stephen Twaddle, former president of Kellogg Europe, is also an investor. A company owned by Lily O’Brien’s founder, Mary Anne O’Brien, was also an early sponsor. Enterprise Ireland has invested around €2 million in the company and injected an additional €190,000 in January 2021.
Carey said East Coast ingredient costs rose about 15% year over year as a result of the war in Ukraine and higher inflation, while energy costs rose.
But he said monthly turnover is now double the rate it was a year ago and annualized turnover is now €8m.
“The business has continued on its path … and moving forward on the path to being a profitable and sustainable business,” he said. “Over the past year, we invested another 1.5 million euros in the business, which mainly finances growth, it’s working capital.”
He said existing investors provided most of that money. While Carey previously predicted the company would be profitable now, she said that won’t happen for a couple of years.
Filings from a company behind East Coast Bakehouse show that as of December 2020, nearly €9.4 million in loan notes, most of it provided by Mr. Carey and Ms. Cowzer, was converted into shares of the business. .
The majority of East Coast’s revenue is generated from the production of biscuits for third parties, including multiples of UK groceries. The turnover is divided equally between Ireland and abroad.