The company confirmed that construction of its continental products facility, based at Bury in Lancashire, was well advanced and progressing to plan, with completion expected in the first half of the next financial year.
When finished, the site is set to consolidate production from the group’s two existing continental products facilities, lift capacity by 70%, add new capability and improve efficiency on existing product ranges.
Plans for a new primary poultry facility in Eye, Suffolk continued to be developed. Cranswick said it expected construction to begin in the first quarter of the next financial year, subject to planning approval in the next few weeks.
The factory, described by the company as a “class-leading facility”, is scheduled for completion in late 2019 and is designed to double existing capacity, with further room for expansion.
Cranswick said the facility would incorporate the highest animal welfare standards and latest generation of production techniques and equipment to drive operational efficiency gains.
The update came in Cranswick’s third-quarter trading statement for the three months to December 31, released on February 1. In it, the company reported like-for-like sales ahead of the same period in the prior year.
Each of the group’s categories delivered positive volume growth, underpinned by a strong performance over the key Christmas trading period, it said.
Total export sales were also well ahead. The UK pig price continued to ease during the period, ending the quarter at a similar level to that of a year earlier.
This downward trend had a knock-on effect on selling prices, and trading during the third quarter of the financial year was slightly ahead of the board’s expectations.
As a consequence of the company’s performance, Darren Shirley, consumer equity research analyst at Shore Capital, estimated double-digit growth for Cranswick’s like-for-like sales in the quarter.
“With trading ‘slightly ahead’ of expectations, we once again upgrade forecasts,” he said. “Cranswick is a high-growth, high-return and high-quality business that merits a premium valuation.”