Belfast Telegraph

Food boss insists UK inside EU 'better for Republic'

By Paul O'Donoghue

The chief executive of Irish food company Greencore has said that Britain remaining in the EU is "strongly in Ireland's economic interest".

Speaking as the convenience food firm reported its half-year results, Patrick Coveney added he thought that it was unlikely that the Republic would benefit to a significant degree from a 'Brexit' which could follow an in/out referendum on EU membership.

Dublin-based Greencore, which is best known for its pre-packed sandwiches and is listed on the London Stock Exchange, has significant operations in the UK, which accounts for over 40% of group revenue.

Mr Coveney says that the best option for Britain is to remain in the EU.

"I think it is very much in the UK's interest to remain in the EU [and] think that businesses believe almost unanimously that the UK should stay in the EU," he said.

"Everything that I have seen and heard suggests that it would be strongly in Ireland's economic interests for the UK to stay in the EU. Some people have made out that there could be competitive advantages for Ireland if the UK leaves, but I don't buy it."

Mr Coveney added that he was "very pleased" with the firm's results, which saw the food maker's revenue increase to £638.8m in the six months to the end of March.

This compared to group turnover of just under £620m in the same period last year. The company's operating profit also increased, jumping by almost 8% from £37.2m to £40.1m. Pre-tax profits for the period rose to £26.3m from £8m the same time last year.

Greencore's fastest growing market was the US, where sales of food to go increased by 30.6%. This now represents around 15% of the group's revenue.

Mr Coveney said the company would have operations revenue capacity of around $700m by the middle of next year. He added that the US could be a $1bn market for the company in the next five to 10 years.

Although he did not say if the firm is targeting specific acquisitions at present, or when they may take place, he said that the firm would look to continue expanding across the UK and the US "as we normally do".



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Belfast Telegraph