Gates told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “We have a very strong pipeline of new products for the rest of the year. The firm’s reputation for innovation with retailers is excellent.”
Last month Bakkavör unveiled its Taste of India range, which included main meals, starters and side dishes. The range is being sold by Tesco.
It also planned to launch four new lines under its New York Soup Company brand, following additions to its salads, dips and sauces lines.
Gates said that new product was key to the success of the own-label manufacturer as it neared the completion of its restructuring programme.
Bakkavör had now converted nearly £400M of debt into equity, said Gates. The firm’s banking facility runs until June 2014.
Relocated to the UK
Also, at the end of last month, the firm’s parent company Bakkavör ehf had relocated to the UK for “ease of administration”.
Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation climbed 9% to reach £23M.
Gates welcomed the greater involvement in the firm of the two Icelandic food entrepreneurs, Ágúst and Lýður Guðmundsson, who founded the business.
“They have said they want to acquire 25% [of the group’s shares] and that’s very positive,” said Gates. “Besides bringing new money into the business, which will help leverage, it is a strong signal of commitment [to suppliers and the industry] that they believe in the business.”
Gates dismissed reports that the group could be the subject of a takeover bid. Asked whether there was any truth in such speculation, Gates said: “Absolutely none.”
He added that Bakkavör is market leader, or holds the number two position in virtually all the 18 categories of food in which it operates.
Meanwhile, Gates remained cautiously optimistic about the prospects for the remainder of the year. “Yes it is a difficult market but we are seeing some steadying. While there’s not the same inflationary pressure seen in the past year, much depends on [the health] of the UK economy.”
Last month Bakkavör reported like-for-like sales up by 3.1% for the quarter ended March 31.
In April the firm opened a new facility at its Caledonian Produce site in Bo’ness, West Lothian. The new factory, which will create 120 jobs, will make nut-based products exclusively for Marks & Spencer.
The new jobs will bring the total number of employees at the site to more than 1,100.
To read more about Bakkavör’s Indian meal range, click here.