The Royal Mint has reported soaring profits, boosted by commemorative coins struck and sold to mark events such as the 50th anniversary of Winston Churchill’s death and the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta .
The Mint, which is the UK’s oldest manufacturer, producing coins for more than 1,000 years, generated revenues of nearly £260m and an operating profit of £11.4m in the year to March – up from £6.7m the previous year.
Sales of circulating coins increased by 5% to £106m. As well as making brand new coins, the Mint has been replacing cupro-nickel 5p and 10p coins with aRMour nickel-plated steel equivalents. The recycling of the metals has yielded more than £35m for the Treasury so far.
The Mint, which is located in south Wales after being based at the Tower of London for more than 500 years, last year supplied 2.4bn coins to UK banks and the Post Office, up from 2bn the year before. It also minted more than 2.2bn coins and blanks for 29 other countries.
A £100 coin featuring Big Ben, of which 50,000 were minted, sold out within days. Other special coins were also popular, including the Magna Carta coin, the Winston Churchill coin and one design which commemorated the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the first world war.
In March, the chancellor unveiled the new 12-sided pound coin, which includes a new covert high-security feature. It is due to enter circulation in 2017.
The Mint, which is 100% owned by the Treasury, pays a dividend to the government each year. For the past few years this has been £4m per annum. The remaining profits are reinvested in the business.
The group said its bullion business faced “difficult global market conditions” over the past year. The organisation moved into gold trading with a new online bullion dealing service last September, allowing people to buy and sell bullion coins at live market rates 24 hours a day, or store them in the Mint’s vault, guarded by the Ministry of Defence. The gold price has since collapsed, so many gold investors would have made a loss.
Even so, the Mint launched Signature Gold on the bullion trading site last month, allowing customers to buy a fractional amount of a 400 oz gold bar.
Adam Lawrence, the Mint’s chief executive, said that for the second year in a row the group had exceeded the ministerial target of a 10% return on average capital employed with a 17% return, and achieved all its other ministerial targets.