Revenues surge past £600m at Billington Group

166-year-old Liverpool food and agriculture group The Billington Group sees annual revenues surge past £600m thanks to acquisition of an animal feeds business. Tony McDonough reports

The Billington Group supplies food products to UK retailers. Picture from The Billington Group


Liverpool food and agriculture group The Billington Group is reporting annual revenues of more than £600m.

This figure, for the 12 months to September 23, 2023, was significantly higher than than £383.5m reported for the previous year. The increase was largely due to the acquisition of animal feed business Carrs Billington Agriculture (CBA).

Until October 2022 CBA, which provides animal feed, farm machinery, fuel and central support for farmers across the UK, was jointly owned by Edward Billington and Carrs Group, based in Carlisle.

However, in August 2022 it was announced that the group would buy Carr’s 50% stake in the business for up to £44.5m. £43m was paid upfront with a further £1.5m dependent on performance over the subsequent two years.

The Billington Group is the trading name of Edward Billington and Son, which is based in Cunard Building on Liverpool waterfront. It said Carr’s acquisition was a “pivotal event” for the group, “cementing its long-term future in UK agriculture”.

At the end of May LBN reported CBA had seen annual revenues rise 12% to £187m. Pre-tax profits were up 70% to £5.6m.

The Billington Group was a family business formed in Liverpool in 1858 with founder Edward Billington importing tea, coffee and sugar into the UK. The business grew into a major trading venture.

It operated in a number of food and agriculture-related sectors throughout the 20th century and into the 21st century. Following the COVID pandemic the business underwent a restructuring.

Today it employs around almost 1,900 people across four businesses. Two are Carrs Billington and English Provender Company (EPC), which makes sauces, dressings, condiments, mayonnaise and marinades for food manufacturers and retailers.

A third, Billington Foods, supplies the UK’s foodservice, retail and B2B markets with chilled and frozen sauces, soups, frozen pies and desserts. The fourth, Criddle & Co, is an agricultural commodity trading business.

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Criddle & Co has also recently posted its financial results for the 12 months to September 3, 2023. It reported a 13% rise in revenues to £176.5m and a 57% increase in pre-tax profits to just over £3m.

In its latest accounts, posted on Companies House, Edward Billington said it was pleased with the performance of CBA amid a “tough time” for the agricultural sector. It also described EPC’s performance as “excellent” and said Criddle was performing well.


cows, cattle, farm, farming, agriculture
Carrs Billington is a major supplier to the agriculture sector


However, directors expressed concern about the performance of Billington Foods which they said had had a “difficult year”. The report added: “Actions have been taken to improve both volume and margins.

“There is now a clear path to bring the business back to profit and we are confident that this will be achieved in the 2023/24 financial year.”

According to the accounts remuneration to directors, including salaries, bonuses and pension contributions, totalled £1.77m for the year with the highest paid director receiving £830,000. Total dividends paid for the year were £1.75m.

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