Greencore food-to-go sales up 7% in first half-year

Greencore has reported a strong performance from its food-to-go business in the first half of its financial year – although group revenue declined.

Total reported revenue fell 4.6% year-on-year to £701.4m in the six months to 29 March, which Greencore said reflected the impact of site disposals. The company last year sold its cakes and desserts business in Hull to Bright Blue Foods and closed its desserts operation at Evercreech in Somerset. It also sold its entire US operation.

Total pro forma revenue grew 5.4% year-on-year, while adjusted operating profit rose 0.9% to £44.7m.

Revenue from food-to-go was £447.1m, with both reported and pro forma revenue growth of 7.0%.

“The growth outlook for food-to-go categories remains encouraging, underpinned by favourable consumer trends and ongoing investment by retail customers,” stated the company.

Reported revenue from other convenience categories – including ready meals, soups and sauces, quiche, ambient sauces and pickles, and frozen Yorkshire puddings – fell 19.8% to £254.3m, while pro forma revenue increased by 2.8%.

Raw material and packaging costs rose by just over 1% in the half-year, reported Greencore, with the National Living Wage driving UK labour inflation of 5%. The company said it mitigated the effects of inflation by working with customers on cost and innovation programmes, and internal cost efficiency initiatives.

Greencore also reported it had worked intensively with customers and other stakeholders to plan for potential Brexit scenarios, adding it closely monitors the potential implications of Brexit, particularly around volume, material sourcing and labour availability.

“The group continues to believe the risks from Brexit are manageable in the medium-term, while acknowledging that the near-term challenges associated with a disorderly exit remain uncertain,” it stated.

Greencore CEO Patrick Coveney said the business had a good first half of the year, with clear financial and operational progress.

“We have extended our leadership position in key food-to-go categories in the UK, and now have a robust foundation from which to pursue a range of new food-to-go product and channel opportunities.

“While recognising that trading conditions in the wider UK grocery sector remain challenging, the growth outlook for our business continues to be encouraging, underpinned by favourable consumer trends and ongoing investment by our customers.”

The company also reported the shift of Peter Haden from UK CEO to chief operating officer.

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