Greencore has stated that 2019 has got off to an “encouraging start”, with strong sales in its food-to-go operations.

The business last month completed the sale of its entire US business, and revenue from its continuing operations amounted to £363.5m in the 13 weeks to 28 December. On a pro-forma basis (excluding disposed sites and those that have ceased trading) revenue increased 5.8% in the quarter, although it was down 5.7% on a reported basis.

Growth in the first quarter was driven by sales in the food-to-go categories, where pro-forma and reported revenue increased 6.4%.

“Greencore has made an encouraging start to the year,” said the business in its trading statement, adding that it expected continued underlying revenue growth in its key convenience food categories.

The company said it believed the risks from Brexit were manageable in the medium-term, but pointed out that the short-term challenges associated with a no-deal exit were uncertain.

“A strengthened balance sheet and strong underlying free-cash generation leaves the group well positioned to consider organic and inorganic investment consistent with its strategic and returns objectives,” it stated.

“Over the medium term, the group expects that its market positioning, capability set, customer profile, well-invested asset network and proven economic model will generate strong growth, cash generation and returns.”