March 8 2014 Latest news:
Ben Woods, Business writer
Friday, February 7, 2014
The American owners of frozen food producer Linda McCartney have achieved record results just months after investing £20m into its Fakenham factory.
Hain Celestial said reducing costs and expanding distribution had helped group sales rise 18pc to $535 million (£328m) for the three months to the end of last year, while UK net sales were up 22pc to $146 million (£89.6m) over the same period.
The record boost comes despite high commodity costs and shifting trade patterns impacting its gross margin.
Irwin Simon, chief executive, said he expects mount further growth from the recently-acquired Tilda brand by increasing sales of its Basmati and ready-to-heat rice products through distribution platforms in Europe, America and Canada.
“We are pleased with our record second quarter results, the highest in the company’s history and our twelfth consecutive quarter of year-over-year double digit sales and adjusted earnings growth.
“We delivered strong sales driven by expanded distribution and brand contribution as well as robust operating margin expansion as we leveraged our selling, general and administrative expenses with a higher sales base.”
In September, Hain Daniels (part of the Hains Celestial group) announced that it would be creating 350 new jobs in Fakenham after striking an investment deal with Sainsburys to launch a new range of chilled puddings.
The cash pledge follows a $230m (£148m) takeover deal of the Daniels Group by Hain Celestial in which it vowed to up the production of the Fakenham factory and make better use of its UK sites.
The Hain Daniels product line-up currently includes the Linda McCartney meat-free range was well as New Covent Garden Soup, Johnson’s Juices and the Farmhouse Fare range of traditional desserts.
“With a good start to our third quarter, we expect to deliver a strong second half in sales and profitability as consumption trends reflect consumers seeking out our organic and natural products,” Mr Simon said. “We will continue to focus on driving profitable sales and sustained earnings growth over the next several years by expanding distribution of our brands, including our newly acquired Tilda brand, across geographies and sales channels to capitalize on the tremendous white space opportunities in various retail channels.”
A “shoo-before-shooting” policy to control pigeons has been described by a leading Norfolk farmer as “completely bonkers”.