Cranswick plc has announced that underlying sales increased by 12% in the year ended March 31, 2014.
Total sales for the year were 13% higher after taking into account the contribution from acquisitions.
Strong growth was seen across most product categories, particularly fresh pork, bacon and cooked meats. Pastry sales also continued to grow strongly following the successful launch of several new product ranges during the year.
Export sales were well ahead of the levels reported in the previous financial year, reflecting robust demand for pork products in Far Eastern markets.
Cranswick invested more than £20 million in its infrastructure during the year, allowing it to further improve operational efficiencies and to launch new product ranges. The group’s new gourmet pastry facility at Malton, North Yorkshire, was successfully commissioned, and work is ongoing on an extension to the firm’s Milton Keynes cooked meats facility, which will add substantial capacity and deliver further efficiency gains.
Other investments included East Anglian Pigs (now Wayland farms) and two former Dent Ltd herds.
The company said record input prices seen during the year would impact operating margins, despite some recovery as the year progressed. Margins are expected to be slightly below those achieved for 2012/13.
Notwithstanding the significant capital investment programme and the acquisition of the pig breeding and rearing activities earlier in the year, strong cash generation from operating activities through the final quarter will result in Cranswick’s year-end net debt being substantially lower than at the end of quarter three and below the level reported at the last financial year end.
The group has also recently extended the term and increased the size of its banking facility, leaving the business in a sound financial position, with committed, unsecured facilities of £120 million that will provide generous headroom for further business growth through to July 2018.