Belfast Telegraph

Greencore aims for bigger slice of food-to-go market

Briefing: Patrick Coveney
Briefing: Patrick Coveney

By John Mulligan

Food group Greencore aims to deepen its relationships with customers as it eyes a bigger slice of the UK's food-to-go market.

In a trading update yesterday, the group also said its pro forma revenue has improved during its final fiscal quarter, which ends today.

It told investors that its adjusted earnings per share for the period will be in line with market expectations.

The company, the biggest sandwich maker in the world, held a capital markets day in London yesterday.

It said that it plans to deliver mid-single digit organic revenue growth over the medium term, as well as high single-digit adjusted earnings per share growth.

Greencore, led by chief executive Patrick Coveney, is focused primarily on the UK market. It manufactures about 706 million sandwiches and other food-to-go products every year. It also makes 144 million chilled prepared meals and 226 million bottles of cooking sauces, pickles and condiments.

Its customers include UK supermarket chains such as Tesco, Asda, Sainbury's and Marks & Spencer. Clients also include Starbucks, Poundland and Boots.

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The company told analysts and investors yesterday that the company has a deep relationship with its customers, and a mandate to do more.

It plans to broaden its sushi offering, and capitalise on chilled snacking growth.

Mr Coveney told analysts that the current markets which the company serves in the UK are valued at about £5.5bn. By 2024 they could be worth about £7bn, he predicted.

In its last financial year Greencore generated revenue of £1.5bn and an adjusted operating of profit of £104.6m.

The company, whose shares are amongst the most shorted of any UK-listed firm, made significant preparations in advance of last March's expected Brexit date. It stockpiled some ingredients, such as prawns, and was also preparing to airfreight some ingredients to the UK to avoid expected delays at British ports.

Earlier this month Greencore announced that it had paid £56m to buy UK convenience foods maker Freshtime. That firm generated revenue of £66m last year and a pre-tax profit of £5.6m.

Greencore already distributes a significant amount of Freshtime's products.

Mr Coveney said at the time that Freshtime was an "excellent strategic fit" for Greencore.

Belfast Telegraph

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