Lightbody hands over Finsbury helm to Duffy
Published:  09 October, 2009

Martin Lightbody has stepped down as chief executive of Finsbury Foods, and handed the reins to former chief operating officer John Duffy, as the group announced its full-year results.

Lightbody will assume the position of non-executive chairman, following the firm's annual general meeting on 25 November. He told British Baker it had always been the plan to hold the position of chief executive for a 12-month period, following the departure of former CEO Dave Brooks last year, but said that he would still be "heavily involved with the business".

Duffy has assisted Lightbody since September 2008, and has held previous positions at WT Foods and Mars.

Lightbody explained that he and Duffy "are pretty much aligned in our thinking", and he doesn't foresee any major changes in the structure or strategy of the business. However, whereas the firm has said previously that it was growing in niche areas, it is now becoming a "properly integrated bread and cake business", he added.

Finsbury's results for the 53 weeks to 4 July 2009 revealed revenue growth of 8%, with like-for-like sales up 2%. However, profits suffered with the high cost of raw materials such as eggs, chocolate and sugar. Group revenue stood at 178.9m, an increase of 13.8m (8.4%) year-on-year. Adjusted profit before tax was 5m (2008: 7.7m).

Finsbury's bread and 'free from' arm saw like-for-like growth up 14%, with Finsbury's recent acquisition, Goswells, now fully integrated within Nicholas & Harris, said Lightbody.

Larger cake sales continued to grow in line with the overall ambient cake market, up 2% on last year. "There has been lots of promotional activity in the market," explained finance director Lisa Morgan. "Offerings are now moving towards things such as multi-buys, rather than just being geared around price points."

Sales of its Thorntons branded cakes rocketed by over 70% during the year. "We have stretched the brand into different areas, refreshed the celebration cake range, and moved into the convenience sector with smaller pack sizes," said Lightbody.

Sales of its WeightWatchers branded cakes also rose by 25%.




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