R&R’s revenues keep rising after ‘fantastic start’ in South Africa

Ibrahim Najafi, the CEO of R&R Ice Cream
Ibrahim Najafi, the CEO of R&R Ice Cream
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ICE cream manufacturer R&R Ice Cream saw its annual sales push closer to the one billion euro mark last year, as growth in Australia and South Africa compensated for the impact of a dire British summer.

R&R Ice cream is also in advanced talks to create an ice cream giant with Nestle, the world’s biggest packaged food firm.

Yesterday, R&R, which is based in Leeming Bar, near Northallerton, revealed that it had recorded revenues of 991.6m euros in 2015, compared with revenues of 837.8m euros the year before.

Core earnings (EBITDA) in 2015 were 187.7m euros, compared with 140m euros in 2014. R&R is the second largest take-home ice cream manufacturer in Europe, with a strong presence in the UK, German, French and Italian ice cream markets. It has also established a foothold in Australia and South Africa, following the acquisition of Peters Food Group in June 2014 and Nestle South Africa in May last year. In October last year, R&R announced that it was in advanced discussions with Nestlé to set up a new joint venture covering ice cream, which would be based mainly in Europe and Africa. In a statement to accompany the results, R&R, which employs 800 staff at Leeming Bar, said it had no further updates on the potential joint venture.

R&R’s chief executive Ibrahim Najafi said the company was undertaking a massive amount of work in connection with the planned joint venture. It is understood that it could be ready to go live next year.

R&R UK revenues increased by eight million euros, or 3.2 per cent year-on-year. R&R said: “The UK performed well in its branded offer and achieved improvements from some mix gains and more effective promotions. However, a poor summer of ‘inclement’ weather across the UK for most of the season impacted the market: the UK market declined by 0.9 per cent in value terms in 2015, and by 2.6 per cent in volumes and, typically, poorer weather sees a higher proportion of sales made on promotion.”

However, the UK increased revenues through the growing discounter and convenience channels. Mr Najafi said: “(In the UK) things didn’t turn out the way we would have liked weather-wise, but we still motored ahead. I’m very excited about the growth prospects of the business.”

He said the company had got off to a fantastic start in South Africa, where R&R’s operations contributed post-acquisition revenues of 38.6m euros. R&R also said that its Australian business performed well in a relatively robust market, where a slow end to the 2014/2015 Australian summer season was offset by a very strong start to the 2015/2016 summer season

Mr Najafi said the company, which is majority owned by funds held by PAI Partners, was proud of its Yorkshireness. He added: “It doesn’t matter where people come from. It’s about the skills levels they bring.”

On the subject of the looming referendum over Britain’s continued membership of the European Union, Mr Najafi said: “I don’t want to talk politics, but I think the Prime Minister struck a good deal.”