Cranswick reports a strong Christmas

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U​pmarket sausages to bacon firm Cranswick reported strong Christmas trading and said sales in December were well ahead of the previous year.

The Hull-based group said underlying sales volumes rose two per cent in the three months to December 31, helped by fresh pork sales returning to growth in its third quarter.

However underlying revenues fell three per cent as lower input prices were passed on to customers.

Export sales gained momentum with sales to non-European markets up 38 per cent on last year as sales to the Far East and the US pick up.

Cranswick said its markets remain competitive, but the group is focused on innovation, quality and service.

The firm said the integration of Benson Park, which it bought last October, is going to plan and the performance of the business has been in line with the board’s expectations.

It added that further capital investment, which was planned to take place at the time of the acquisition, will be completed during the next financial year.

This investment will create substantial additional capacity and enable the business to offer a broader product range and improve operating efficiencies.

Net debt increased from £22m to £57m during the quarter, following the expected seasonal increase in working capital, the acquisition of Benson Park and on-going capital expenditure.

Despite the investment in Benson Park, the firm said net debt was only £2m higher than at the end of 2013.

The group said it is in a strong financial position, with committed, unsecured facilities of £120m which will provide comfortable headroom going forward.

Finance Director Mark Bottomley 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 remains confident in both the current financial year and the continued long term success and development of the business.”