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Strong sales boost for producer

PUBLISHED: 11:30 06 February 2013

Cranswick Country Foods in Watton. Picture; Matthew Usher.

Cranswick Country Foods in Watton. Picture; Matthew Usher.

© Archant Norfolk 2012

Strong sales of bacon, sausages and cooked meats boosted sales for pork producer Cranswick.

The EDP Top 100 firm, which has a plant at Watton saw underlying turnover in the three months to December 7pc ahead of the same period last year, underpinned by strong volume growth.

Total sales for the quarter were 8 pc higher – taking into account the contribution from Kingston Foods which was acquired by the firm last June.

Export sales also remained buoyant and sales of pastry products continued to show pleasing progress, the firm said in a trading update.

The firm, which recently won approval from the Australian government to export its pork products “down under”, said while rising input costs and pig prices initially hit margins, this had been partially mitigated by efficiencies, ongoing capital investment and “constructive pricing discussions” with customers.

Cranswick said the extension of its Sutton Fields cooked meats facility in Hull was completed ahead of the Christmas trading period and provided increased capacity to meet the strong sales growth seen in this part of the business.

The extension also improved production flows through the factory which has driven efficiency benefits.

It added that the expected seasonal increase in working capital, the sharp rise in input costs, the substantial uplift in sales and ongoing capital expenditure, had seen net debt increase from £32m to £48m during the quarter, but the group was in a strong financial position, with committed, unsecured facilities of £100m providing “generous headroom” going forward.

“The business has a well invested asset base, loyal and skilled teams, a great range of products and a strong financial position,” the statement said. “The board looks forward positively to the rest of the year and the long term development of Cranswick.”

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