Cranswick plc has reported revenues of more than £1 billion for the first time in the year to March 31, 2105.
Sales hit £1,003.3 million, which was 0.8% higher in cash terms, but thanks to lower prices represented a 3% increase in volumes.
Adjusted group operating profit increased by 10.1% to £58.7 million, but accounting revisons including a £4.2 million revaluation charge relating to the value of the company’s biological assets (pigs), saw Cranswick report a statutory profit before tax of £52.8 million, £2 million less than last year.
The group’s operating margin was 0.4% ahead of the previous financial year at 5.8% of sales, reflecting an unstinting focus on improving operational efficiencies and the benefit of lower pig prices in the current financial year.
Cranswick’s board is proposing to increase the final dividend by 6.4% to 23.4p/share.
The company also reported that its fresh pork sales were 10% lower than the previous year. This was due, in part, to the loss of business with one customer at the start of the year, which had now been recovered in full. The fall in sales was also partly attributable to a 9% year-on-year fall in the average pig price, with this reduction being reflected in lower selling prices.
Sausage sales increased by 6%, with growth in premium sausage and beef burgers partly countered by lower sales of frozen and mid-tier ranges.
Bacon sales, meanwhile, were 4% ahead as continued growth of the business’ hand-cured, air-dried bacon was supported by a substantial uplift in sales of premium gammons.
Cranswick’s exports to non-European markets were 23% ahead of the same period last year, as the business continued to make positive progress in developing its export trade. The business is now exporting to a number of countries in the Far East and has recently sent shipments to West Africa and Australia.
One-third of the tonnage being processed through the group’s two primary processing facilities is being shipped overseas each week, and Cranswick now has a dedicated business development manager based in Shanghai. It’s also working with the China British Business Council to expand its knowledge of the Chinese market.
Exports to Europe were lower than in the same period last year as more product was sold into the UK market, where prices were more attractive.
Following a substantial investment in the group’s pig breeding and rearing activities during the previous financial year, the business has been focussing on improving the quality of the herd and the performance of the breeding, rearing and finishing units. It now has the capacity to provide more than 20% of the group’s overall British pig requirements, and there’ll be ongoing investment to improve productivity and efficiencies.