Cranswick adapts to changing shopping habits

SHARES in ​upmarket sausages and bacon firm Cranswick jumped five per cent ​after the company announced ​a recovery in trading and a six per cent dividend hike.

Chris Battle is a traditional bacon maker for Cranswick, based in Hull.

The Hull-based firm said​ changes to consumer habits such as smaller but more frequent shopping trips, less food wastage​ and​ the growth of ​the ​convenience ​and discount ​sector, offer huge opportunities for the firm.

Cranswick’s sales and marketing director Jim Brisby​ said: “Consumer eating habits are changing. ​

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“We need products at fixed price points for people shopping online.

​“When people shop at convenience stores​ they don’t want three for £10 if they’re carrying their shopping home.”

​Cranswick is also keen to develop its ‘food on the go’ ranges.

“Between 35 and 40 per cent of calories are consumed out of the home and it will be over 50 per cent by 2020 as people eat hot breakfasts on the go and even evening meals are on the move,” said Mr Brisby.

“This is the world we live in. Fewer meals are a family occasion.”

He was speaking as the group announced ​an 11 per cent increase in pre-tax profits to £25.8m in the ​six months to September 30​, once ​​one-off charges​ were stripped out.

​​​Revenues ​dipped ​0.4​ per cent​ ​to £481.5​m ​and​ pre-tax profits fell 5.4​ per cent​ to £24.6​m ​with one-off charges included.

The group’s shares rose 69p to 1404p.

Cranswick’s chief executive Adam Couch said the acquisition of Benson Park, a Hull-based premium cooked poultry firm, is bedding down well.

The group paid an initial £18m for the firm last month and another £4m is payable dependent on performance.

“Benson Park is going really well. The management are well known. We’ve worked with the guys before and it was imperative they stayed in the business,” he said.

Benson Park supplies chicken and turkey for upmarket sandwich and salad retailers such as Pret A Manger and Marks & Spencer as well as restaurant chains such as Wagamama, Wahaca and Leons.

The plan is to introduce Benson Park’s chicken ranges to Cranswick’s retail customers, which include Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer.

At the same time, Cranswick hopes to sell its pork, sausages, bacon and charcuterie to Benson Park’s ‘food to go’ clientele.

The group said that fresh pork sales fell 13 per cent over the half year after it lost business with a major customer although it is winning this business back.

Sausage sales rose one per cent after strong growth in premium sausage sales was countered by lower sales of frozen and mid-tier ranges.

According to the latest Kantar market research data, sales of super-premium sausages, which Cranswick specialises in, continue to grow ahead of the overall category both in volume and value terms.

Sales of premium beef burgers were slightly lower year on year reflecting the shorter barbecue season in 2014 compared with the previous summer.

Bacon sales rose three per cent as continued growth of hand-cured, air-dried bacon was supported by a substantial lift in sales of premium gammon.

Cooked meat sales rose eight per cent supported by new product launches.