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Cranswick sales up as Hoggarth hands over reins

Cranswick has announced a 7.4% increase in sales for the three months to 30 June, driven by strong performances for sausages, bacon and Continental products.

The trading update came with the company’s long-standing chief executive, Bernard Hoggarth, set to stand down at Cranswick’s agm today. As previously announced in May, he will be replaced by chief operating officer Adam Couch. However, Hoggarth will remain with the company on a part-time basis as commercial director.

The meat processor, which produces products for brands such as Jamie Oliver, The Black Farmer and Red Lion Foods, said trading during its first quarter had been in line with expectations, with sales of £209m.

Cranswick said it was in a strong financial position, with net debt of £38m at the end of June, down from £55m last year. It added had “committed, unsecured facilities of £100m”, providing opportunities for further growth.

Pig prices in the three months to the end of June had increased modestly, Cranswick said, but remained below their peak of last summer.

All product categories delivered “robust growth”, with “strong gains” across sausages, bacon and Continental. The company said its acquisition last month of Kingston Foods had boosted its cooked meat production capabilities and further diversified its product range.

Analysts at Investec said Cranswick showed “continued strong sales momentum”.

The update showed “margins are broadly firm despite some modest increase in pig prices, and the group still boasts a solid balance sheet, even after pressing the button on the pastry expansion plans”.

There was a risk of further pig price increases in the second half of the year, driven by higher feed costs and the EC’s impending partial sow stall ban, Investec warned.

Source: www.thegrocer.co.uk - 01 Aug 2012