The Tangerine dream goes on
For a business owner who was an active and vocal supporter of Brexit, David Haythornthwaite’s analysis of the impact it has had so far may seem surprising to some.
His Tangerine Holdings group continues to do business across the Channel, but he speaks candidly about the disruption caused by the UK’s divorce from the EU.
He says: “Brexit has been very difficult and it always was going to be, with all the new rules and regulations. I don’t think anybody who exports to Europe has found it particularly easy going.
“That’s largely down to the confusion and different interpretations of the rules by each individual country.
“It has definitely been more difficult and very disruptive, and it continues to be so. I feel personally that there is a little bit of bitterness on their side, making things difficult, also there was unpreparedness among businesses, and it seems rules are almost being written as we go along.
“Having said that it’s difficult exporting to other parts of the world, everywhere is becoming more protectionist, these are the challenges you face in exporting.”
However, despite the current difficulties he remains confident there will be a positive outcome to Brexit for the UK.
He adds: “I still feel leaving the EU was the right decision and I’m happy that we have made that move. It is going to take a little bit of time and in many ways EU rules still apply to us as we are in this transition period.
“It means we are not seeing the total benefit at the moment. But we knew it was never going to be easy, divorce is never easy, is it?”
I still feel leaving the EU was the right decision and I’m happy that we have made that move
It is fair to say that Tangerine Holdings, with its headquarters in Lytham, has more than weathered the twin storms of Brexit and the global pandemic.
The business also sits at number xxx in this year’s Lancashire Business View Hot 100 list of the county’s most profitable SMEs. (see page xx for the full list)
The group, which specialises in the manufacture and sale of animal healthcare and feed products, saw its veterinary business’ turnover reach the £30m mark last year. Profits were close to £8m
David says: “Overall, our sales across the board last year grew 19 per cent, it was a phenomenal year.”
There was rising demand for Tangerine’s veterinary products as pet ownership soared during the pandemic.
However, there were downsides. The group’s Mill Farm Sports Village at Wesham, home to his ambitious non-league football club AFC Fylde, “has been a disaster”, he says, forced to close its doors during the lockdowns, with no revenue coming in.
Despite that, there are plans for further expansion at Mill Farm, which has been a multi-million- pound project and has already brought more than 200 permanent and 400 temporary jobs to the area.
Tangerine Holdings itself employs just over 300 people, most of them at its operation on the outskirts of Lytham, making it one of the biggest private employers on the Fylde.
Everything that it supplies around the globe is made at its factory there and production has continued throughout the pandemic, its products deemed essential.
Measures were swiftly put in place to ensure employees had a safe working environment. David says: “We worked extremely hard and put in some strong measures to make sure our staff were safe.”
Mill Farm was also offered to the NHS and became a local vaccination centre.
David started the business in 1997 after spending more than a decade in America. It began life as a distribution operation but over the years has moved into manufacturing.
It operates in several distinct markets within the sector – producing its wide range of products for household pets, large farm animals and horses.
It is a true global operation. Nearly 60 per cent of its sales are to overseas markets. The business operates through wholly owned subsidiaries, with their own warehouses, staff and salespeople. Their head offices are in Barcelona, Dusseldorf, Dublin, Lisbon and Atlanta, Georgia.
Added to that are regional offices, one in Singapore and a recently opened operation in Buenos Aires, to support South American sales, along with export partners Tangerine works with in 34 other countries.
David says: “We’ve got a fantastic export story to tell as a company over the last 20 years and particularly over the last 12 months during Covid and the disruption that has gone on. We’re extremely proud of everyone’s efforts here.”
- To read this feature in full and access further Lancashire business news, advice and analysis subscribe to Lancashire Business View magazine or join the LBV Hub from just £2.50 per month. Click here to subscribe now.