Cranswick set to sizzle

PORK specialist Cranswick warned today that the rest of this year will be “demanding” after a solid performance in 2010-11.

Hull-based Cranswick, which supplies fresh pork and gourmet sausages to the leading supermarket chains, said trading for the year to 31 March 2011 will be broadly in line with expectations and the results are set to be released on 16 May.

Underlying, like-for-like sales for the year increased by four per cent and volumes were up six per cent on the same basis. Underlying sales in Q4 were in line with those of the previous year.

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The Deeside cooked meat business was transferred into the Farmers Boy (Deeside) joint venture in July last year with sales excluded from group total sales from then on.

This has an impact on the comparison of total sales which for the full year were two per cent ahead of last year six per cent lower in Q4, Cranswick said. The operating margin was in line with expectations.

The firm said its fresh pork activites are now fully integrated following the commissioning of its new abattoir in Hull and investment to make the Norfolk facility more efficient. The capital expenditure and commissioning of the project at the bacon factory is now substantially complete, it added.

Cash generation from operating activities has remained strong in Q4, meaning in year-end net debt is lower than that of a year ago. Cranswick said it had agreed a new four year bank facility, on improved terms.

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In a trading statement today, it added; “The difficulties facing the UK consumer and the dynamics of the competitive UK market in which the company operates suggests the year to 31 March 2012 may be more demanding than usual.”

It said its asset base, product range and management experience and “robust financial position” meant it was well positioned to continue developing long-term.