By Gordon Deegan

The impact of ‘Storm Ali’ last year sent pre-tax losses soaring to almost €500,000 at the company which operates the National Ploughing Championships.

The storm last September forced organisers of the event staged at Tullamore to cancel the biggest day of the three day event and incur additional costs by putting on an extra day on the Friday.

New accounts filed The National Ploughing Association of Ireland Company Ltd show the full impact of Storm Ali as pre-tax losses at the company increased almost nine fold from €55,865 to €494,370 in the 12 months to the end of January 31, 2019.

The National Ploughing firm incurred the sharp rise in losses after revenues decreased by 12% from €5.6 million to €4.97 million.

Commenting on last year’s financial performance, managing director of the National Ploughing firm, Anna Marie McHugh, said that it was “obviously very disappointing”.

McHugh said: “But this was due to circumstances beyond our control last year and we had to cancel our biggest day of the three-day event on the Wednesday due to the weather event – Storm Ali.

“We also had to put on an extra day and this extra cost was not factored into the original pricing.”

She added: “However, we were delighted to be able to hold the extra day for our exhibitors and the public.

We are also very grateful of everyone that was involved in the lead up to the weather impact and the clean-up operation.

Preparations are well advanced for this year’s event where around 250,000 are expected to attend the 88th National Ploughing Championships in mid-September at Ballintrane, Fenagh, Co. Carlow.

McHugh said: “We are delighted to say that this year’s exhibition is on a par if not bigger than 2018. We are very grateful to all our exhibitors again for their support this year.”

The event continues to have worldwide appeal with exhibitors, international buyers and visitors coming from far flung countries such as Turkey, the US, UK, Germany, India, Poland, Belgium, New Zealand, France, Saudi Arabia, Latvia and the Netherlands due to attend.

The National Ploughing company’s after-tax loss was €608,741 in the 12 months to the end of January 31 this year compared to €81,445 in the prior year.

However, in spite of the loss last year, the National Ploughing firm’s balance remains very strong.

At the end of January this year, the firm was sitting on accumulated profits of €13.3 million.

The firm’s cash pile increased from €1.47 million to €1.7 million and its investment totalled €11 million.

Directors’ pay totalled €220,393. The company employs 11 including directors and staff costs totalling €557,649.