Revenues rise at Watton food producer Cranswick as integrations gather pace

On the production line at Cranswick's plant in Watton. Picture: Matthew Usher.

On the production line at Cranswick's plant in Watton. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

Revenues at food producer Cranswick continued to rise over the past quarter, thanks to the Christmas period and the ongoing integration of new acquisitions.

In its third-quarter update delivered this morning, the EDP/EADT Top100 company said total and underlying revenue 'was well ahead of the prior year', supported by volume growth, 'robust' Christmas trading and increased export sales.

Revenues from the Far East also rose, reflecting strong demand from the region and increased output from Cranswick's two primary processing facilities, including its plant at Watton, where it recently completed a £6m upgrade.However, the producer said its input costs rose during the period – an increase it had partially mitigated through efficiency improvements, internal pig production and 'constructive pricing discussions' with customers.

Cranswick said the integration of Northern Irish producer Dunbia Ballymena, which was completed in November, was progressing well and according to plan, while Weybread-based Crown Chicken, which was acquired in April, had also 'continued to contribute strongly'.

'The business is being integrated successfully and is forging strong links with the group's premium cooked poultry and pig farming operations,' said the statement.

Cranswick employs nearly 1,000 people at its Watton plant and 400 at Crown Chicken. Last year, before the acquisition of Crown, Cranswick turned over £1,016m and recorded pre-tax profits of £62.1m.

Cranswick also said it would continue to invest in its facilities, and that work had recently begun on a purpose-built factory in Greater Manchester.

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The group also refinanced its banking facility in the past quarter, securing a revolving credit facility of £160m, including an overdraft of £20m - measures which Cranswick said provided 'significant headroom for future growth'.

However, net debt increased to levels above the same stage last year, reflecting the acquisition of Dunbia Ballymena and ongoing capital expenditure.

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Of prospects for the rest of the year, the statement said: 'With experienced management at all levels of the group, a strong range of products, a well-invested asset base and a robust financial position, the board is confident in both the prospects for the remainder of the current financial year and the continued long term success and development of the business.'

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