Cyber-attack contributes to major Harrogate district firm posting £4.1m loss
Jan 13, 2023
Marcus Boardall, chief executive of Reed Boardall, with finance director Sarah Roberts
Chief executive Marcus Boardall and finance director Sarah Roberts

A major Harrogate district employer has posted a pre-tax loss of £4.1 million after one of its most difficult years ever.

Boroughbridge-based Reed Boardall, which employs 800 staff, grew turnover by 6.2% In the year to March 2022 from £69.8m to £74.1m. But the temperature-controlled food storage and distribution business sustained a £4.1m loss compared with £705,000 profit in the previous year.

The company faced a raft of industry challenges, including rising fuel and energy costs, covid and driver shortages. But it also had to contend with other issues, including a cyber-attack.

Chief executive Marcus Boardall said:

“Our financial performance was adversely affected by Reed Boardall being the victim of a criminal cyber-attack, resulting in our IT systems being out of operation for six days.

“The costs associated with the interruption, loss of revenue and subsequent recovery, were substantial. The situation was exacerbated by bad debt as one of our largest transport customers was placed into administration, although the contract has been taken over by a major retailer.”

Mr Boardall added:

“There’s no question that it has again been a very difficult year for the industry. We have seen the challenges of rising employment costs and inflation forcing up prices for most operators, while coping with continued disruption as a result of reduced staff levels due to covid, along with the problem of driver shortages.

“Looking to the future, the pandemic disruption appears to be settling, and we are starting to bear the fruits of the proactive initiatives we have undertaken to establish our own in-house team of drivers – for example, over the last year, we have trained over 20 new recruits from scratch at our own academy, enabling them to become qualified drivers.”

Mr Boardall said he was “confident that better times are ahead”, adding:

“We have established a strong position in the marketplace and we will continue to prove the success of our single site strategy where we are able to serve all our customers’ needs efficiently.

“I would like to thank our 800-strong team and loyal customers for their continued support as we continue on our growth journey.”

‘Resilient performance’

Based on a 55-acre site just outside Boroughbridge, Reed Boardall has grown to become one of the largest temperature-controlled food distribution businesses in the UK.

With a fleet of 200 vehicles operating 24 hours a day, year-round, it delivers 12,000 pallets of frozen food daily from manufacturers across Britain, Europe and further afield to all the UK’s best-known supermarkets. It also provides blast freezing, picking and packaging services.

Finance director Sarah Roberts said:

“Given the myriad of pressures on the business over the last 12 months, we have once again put in a resilient performance and are pleased to say that we are now on a much more even keel.

“Having completed the multi-million pound expansion of one of our cold stores in spring 2021, we have the largest and most modern facility of its kind in the UK. With a capacity of 168,000 pallets, we have continued to see volumes rise since the year end.

“We have also secured additional business in the new financial year and our ability to adapt to an ever-changing industry is enabling us to attract new customers with very specific requirements while still ensuring their integration into our operations complements our existing customer base.”



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