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Financial risk management

The Group’s operations expose it to a variety of financial risks: price risk; interest rate risk; credit risk; and liquidity risk. Given the size of the Group, the Directors have not established a sub-committee of the Board to monitor financial risk management, but have established policies that are implemented and monitored by the Executive Directors.

Price risk

The Group is exposed to commodity price risk principally in respect of certain raw materials in its Feeds business and oil-related products in the Fuels business.

The Feeds business enters into forward supply contracts in order to manage the impact of price movements on its gross margin. At 31 May 2017, the Group had open forward supply contracts with a principal value of £42.1 million (31 May 2016: £25.5 million). The fair value of forward supply contracts recognised in the balance sheet in accordance with IAS 39 ‘Financial Instruments: Recognition and Measurement’ is £0.2 million (31 May 2016: £0.2 million).

The fair value of forward supply contracts is based on generally accepted valuation techniques using inputs from observable market data on equivalent instruments at the balance sheet date. The contracts are settled on a gross cash basis and are classified as current assets or liabilities, as all contractual cash flows fall due to be settled in less than one year.
The Group has not designated any of these contracts as hedging instruments during the period under review. As a result, changes in the fair value of non-hedging forward supply contracts amounting to £Nil have been credited to the income statement in the year (2016: £0.1 million).

The Fuels business’ oil-related products are subject to changes in the world commodity price for crude oil. However, the relatively low stockholding maintained and daily price monitoring systems used to determine selling prices enable the business to effectively manage the risk of gross margin erosion. Forward supply contracts are not utilised by this business.

The extent of these risks is regularly reviewed and assessed by the Executive Directors and reported back to the Board. This process is considered to be effective given the size and nature of the risks involved, but will be reviewed in the future should circumstances change.

Interest rate risk

The Group is exposed to interest rate risk due to its floating rate borrowings.

The Directors review the interest rate hedging policy on at least an annual basis. The Group monitors its exposure to interest rate risk primarily through sensitivity analysis. On the basis of the Group’s analysis, it is estimated that a rise of one percentage point in interest rates on floating rate borrowings would have reduced 2017 profit before taxation by approximately £0.2 million (2016: £0.1 million).

Credit risk

Where appropriate, relevant credit checks are performed on potential customers before sales are made. The amount of exposure to any individual customer is controlled by means of a credit limit that is monitored regularly by management and, in the case of a financially material value, by the Executive Directors. In addition, the Fuels business maintains credit insurance for certain higher value accounts in order to manage the potential financial loss incurred on certain bad debts.

Liquidity risk

The Group actively maintains a mixture of medium-term and short-term debt finance, which is designed to ensure that it has access to sufficient available funds for ongoing working capital needs as well as planned capital investment and expansion generally. The amount of debt finance required is reviewed at least annually by the Directors.

All of the Group’s financial instruments, with the exception of certain borrowings (see note 18), have a contractual maturity of less than one year, based on the earliest date on which the contractual cash flows are required to be settled.

Capital risk

The Group’s objectives when managing capital are to safeguard the Group’s ability to continue as a going concern in order to provide returns to shareholders and benefits to other stakeholders, and to maintain an optimal capital structure to reduce the cost of capital. In order to maintain or adjust the capital structure, the Group may adjust the amount of dividends paid to shareholders, return capital to shareholders, issue new shares or sell assets to reduce debt.

The Group monitors capital risk on the basis of the net debt/EBITDA ratio. This ratio is calculated as net debt divided by earnings before interest, depreciation and amortisation as shown below:

 20172016
Borrowings (£m) (note 18) 14.0 11.7
Less: cash at bank and in hand (£m) (1.0) (1.8)
Net debt (£m) 13.0 9.9
Headline EBITDA (£m) (adjusted for exceptional items – see note 5) 13.2  12.6
Net debt/EBITDA ratio 1.0x 0.8x

The Group targets a net debt/EBITDA ratio between 1.0 and 2.0x.