Sales for the company grew 9.3% to £690.7M in the 28 weeks to July 12 this year, compared with the same period last year, enhanced by favourable currency translation.
Operating profit was up 9% to £18.8M and had grown 1.4% on a constant currency basis. Profit before tax grew 10.4% to £18.4M.
The total volume of meat sold had also risen for Hilton, reaching 160,848t in the first half of this year – an increase of 8.7% for the same period last year. Hilton said this was partially offset by challenging market conditions in central Europe.
Commenting on the results, chief executive Robert Watson said: “Hilton delivered strong volume and profit growth during the period.
‘Strong volume and profit growth’
“Our strategic progress continued with entry into Portugal and expansion recently announced in central Europe where beef deboning has commenced – and a fresh food factory will be developed.”
Hilton’s success was also boosted by a deal with Australian retailer Woolworths, which saw the processor supply the company’s stores with beef, lamb and pork products.
“The initial work on our new factory in Queensland, Australia continues with the planning approvals process well advanced,” Watson continued.
“We remain committed to growing our business through innovation and product development as well as exploring a range of new expansion opportunities to further our geographic reach.”
Basic earnings per share rose 13.6% to 19.2p, while the interim dividend to be paid to investors grew 8.7% to 5p.
Hilton said it would continue to look for further opportunities to expand.
‘Opportunities for expansion’
In a statement, the group: “Hilton continues to explore further opportunities for expansion and is well placed to capture those opportunities as they arise.
“The group’s financial position remains strong and we remain committed to maintaining a strong balance sheet in line with our stated strategy as we invest in these opportunities to grow the business in both domestic and overseas markets.”
However, despite its successful interim results, Hilton posted a number of risks and uncertainties facing the business for the rest of the financial year.
The company identified its dependency on a small number of customers, which held a huge influence when it came to contractual renewal terms at five to 10 year intervals.
Hilton also warned that its growth potential depended on the success of its customers and the future growth of their packed meat sales.
Hilton results – at a glance
- £58.8M rise in sales (9%)
- Operating profit up 9% to £18.8M
- Total volume of meat sold up 8.7% to 160,848t
- Basic earnings per share rose 13.6% to 19.2p