Totté said: “With trading starting positively in January, and divisional management achieving further progress in their improvement programmes, I am confident of meeting our expectations for 2012. And of remaining on track to achieve our aspiration of doubling the size of the business within three years.”
His comments followed publication of the firm’s sixth months results for the period ended 31 December 2011. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation climbed by 28% to reach £6.4M, driven, by “sales growth and a focus on value added activities”, claimed the firm.
Phil Carroll, analyst with Shore Capital, highlighted contributions from the firm’s bakery ingredients division Renshaw and its sugar division Napier.
Carroll said: “We note that management is focusing on driving further operational improvements in the business to not only improve efficiency but also enable the business to better cope with increasing demand.”
The business is looking to continue its progress during calendar year 2012 with more growth expected both at home and abroad, he added.
The firm’s R&W business has been hived off from the Renshaw unit and is now being run as a separate trading division with a greater focus on its chocolate coatings, jams and blends ranges, noted Shore Capital.
Carroll singled out the contribution of its sugar division as being particularly important. “We believe that Napier Brown is likely to have been one of the key drivers along with Renshaw behind the group’s improved financial performance in the period.”
In its financial statement, RGFC highlighted the strategic plans management had implemented for its Napier business. Carroll said: “These are predominantly related to the extension of its sugar supply base, which, in turn, is said to be providing Napier with an important point of difference for customers looking at ensuring their sugar supply.”
He also noted that the revitalised Whitworths brand was said to have gained a number of new listings, which should make it “well-placed for growth”.
The firm’s dairy division Garrett Ingredients was said to have made significant progress last year. It remained strong in the ice cream ingredients category while developing new, complementary segments such as cheeses and cultured products.
Garretts had won new business – becoming the sole distributor for Friesland Campina sweet condensed milk in the UK and Ireland.
Despite difficult trading, bakery division Haydens finished the year strongly with a record sales month. Carroll concluded: "The top-line performance of Haydens has generally been solid in recent years and it has been efficiency that has been the main issue.”
The introduction of blast freezing and chilling equipment at the beginning of second quarter should help to improve efficiency further, he added.