Belfast Telegraph

Kerry Group tucks into hearty £520m profit as turnover rises to £4.8bn

By John Mulgrew

Food giant Kerry Group - which operates several brands based in Northern Ireland - has posted trading profits of €663m (£520m) after a "record year".

The company posted turnover of €6.1bn (£4.8bn) for 2015 across both arms of its business.

And Kerry Group's operations in Northern Ireland are also performing in line with the overall positive numbers across the board, the company said.

The firm owns brands including Henry Denny & Sons, which has a business in Portadown, along with Dairy Producer Packers in Coleraine and Golden Cow in Craigavon.

Kerry Group said it had been a good year for its brands, with the Denny Gold Medal sausage achieving good brand growth year-on-year. Consumer confidence was also up in both UK and Ireland markets.

And despite concerns from many firms in the UK about what impact a vote to leave the EU could have on their businesses, Frank Hayes, director of corporate affairs for Kerry Group, said a Brexit would not be a "materially significant risk".

"Britain is a small part of our total group," he added. "A lot of the production in the UK is supplying the UK market. On top of that, we do supply from the Republic into the UK market, and we also export products from the UK.

"We would not consider this (Brexit) to be a materially significant risk to the business."

The company has two divisions - the global taste and nutrition business, and a consumer foods division, Kerry Foods. The operations in Coleraine and Omagh are part of the company's supply chain.

"We have continued to grow the taste and nutrition offerings, particularly into the food service category," Mr Hayes said.

Kerry Group chief executive Stan McCarthy added that in a "record year of business development in 2015" the business "achieved a strong financial performance, delivering continued business margin expansion".

"Our industry-leading technologies are well positioned to meet today's consumer and customer requirements," he said.

"We expect to achieve 6% to 10% growth in adjusted earnings per share in 2016, taking into account a 3% currency headwind at today's exchange rates".

Revenue in the firm's taste and nutrition and consumer foods arms both increased.

Taste and nutrition experienced 4% in volume growth, up to €4.7bn (£3.7bn), while the consumer foods division rose 3%, up to €1.5bn (£1.2bn).

One of Kerry Group's companies, Golden Cow in Craigavon, produces a range of products, including LowLow Snack Packs and Mattessons chicken dippers. The company has also been building its sales in Asia - where demand was also strong for its protein-enriched foods.

Kerry Group is also known as the firm behind brands such as Dairygold and Cheesestrings.

Belfast Telegraph