Moy Park revenue boosted by growth in UK and Ireland
Poultry giant Moy Park has posted a rise in its revenue and underlying profits, buoyed by its UK and Ireland business.
Total revenue at the Northern Ireland headquartered company increased by £14.4m to £353.2m, when compared with the same period in 2014.
And underlying profits at the purveyors of poultry in the first quarter of the year rose to £10.7m - up 14.2%.
But profit before tax dropped to £5m for the first three months of 2015 - almost half the figure on the same period in the previous year.
It said the boost in revenue - particularly in the UK and Ireland - was down to a "good volume growth" along with a drop in input costs and the strength of the pound over the euro.
And Moy Park Holdings (Europe) Limited's UK and Ireland business revenues increased to almost £280m in the same period.
Underlying pre-tax profit rose from £9.4m to £10.7m.
They are the first results since the company raised £200m on the European bond market last year - achieving another first for a Northern Ireland food business.
Chief executive Janet McCollum said Moy Park has made a "solid start to 2015 in what continues to be a challenging market. Our commitment to deliver the highest quality product offering to our customers and consumers while maintaining the focus on controlling costs has allowed us to report good first-quarter results," she said.
"We have produced a positive cash flow while continuing to invest in the infrastructure to facilitate our growth."
Moy Park is Northern Ireland's largest employer, with around 11,500 staff across Europe, with 5,500 of those at its Craigavon HQ.
It's owned by Brazilian company Marfrig, and there had been speculation last year that it was soon to be floated on the stock market with a rumoured £1bn valuation.
Economist John Simpson said Moy Park could be set for further future expansion following its "positive" results.
"The fact that the underlying profits are up for the quarter shows the progress which has been made," he said.
"Moy Park is a key figure in the Northern Ireland economy, and it has its European headquarters in Northern Ireland, and we are a key player in terms of the overall success.
"They are already a dominant force here, and there may be further expansion in Ireland."
Moy Park is the first Northern Ireland company outside the energy sector to make the move to raise cash through the bond market. It's often viewed as a more reliable way of securing finance than relying on bank and other borrowing.
And as part of its quarterly report for the first 13 weeks of 2015, Moy Park said it was "pleased with the on-going progress being made in the business and remain confident in the long-term success and development of the company.
"We continue to build our business based on the highest quality standards of animal husbandry, production and processing and aim to meet and exceed the ever changing requirements of our customers and consumers," it said.