In its annual report for the year to 30 April 2021, the company, which has a joint venture with Thanet Earth and owns businesses such as Primafruit and The Avocado Company reported operating profit of £1.9m. That compares to £1.1m in the previous year. Sales were down from £454m to £414m.
In his strategic review of the year, group chief executive Martyn Fletcher noted that Fresca Group had also grown pre-tax profit: "A strong pre-tax profit figure of £4.4m reflects our focus on effective cost and margin management, particularly noteworthy considering the additional expense associated with COVID-19 measures and Brexit preparation."
The Avocado Company had performed ahead of expectations, with customer contract wins significantly increasing market share. Mack Fruit continued its solid performance and specialism particularly in the melon category, growing its market share and developing new prospects for growth.
"Work is well underway at The Avocado Company to ensure that the facilities become ‘best in class’ in the flexible ripening and packing of avocados, which supports our long-term growth ambitions in this product area," Fletcher stated.
Fresh Plus, Primafruit and DGM Growers
Work was underway to deliver a centre of excellence for ripening and packing for the Fresh Plus business. Enjoying the benefits of newly-extended facilities, Primafruit had grown its business in target categories such as berries and had moved quickly to ensure that recently integrated exotics products were managed well from farm to store.
Speciality vegetable business DGM Growers in Holbeach moved into a newly-constructed packing factory, chicory growing rooms and staff welfare facilities.
A good summer had led to a high yield for DGM’s outdoor crops, such as courgettes and fennel. Supermarket demand was strong, serving a public with more time and appetite for cooking at home. This company also successfully implemented a new ERP system on time and on budget, to provide better management of information and smoother transactional activity.
"DGM Growers look to further invest in vertical integration," Fletcher added. "By growing more of our products ourselves we can control the integrity of the supply chain and ensure that the values we care about are truly reflected in the products we sell."
Manor Fresh and Thanet Earth
Manor Fresh, Fresca's joint venture potato and vegetable business, stepped up to meet the unprecedented demand from its retail customers and achieved sales growth ahead of the market. Furthermore, it secured a significant business win with its principal customer, offering new investment opportunities to drive further efficiencies and future growth.
Thanet Earth in Kent, which grows speciality tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers for UK retailers, performed extremely well, delivering a result exceeding expectations.
In his statement, chairman Chris Mack said Fresca Group had continued to invest in its subsidiaries across the year. "We have driven positive new developments for our business too, with major investment planned, approved and now undergoing implementation at The Fresh Produce Centre, Primafruit and at DGM Growers.
"To achieve anything like as much as we have through this year is utterly incredible and testament to the character of our people.
"We’re determined to deliver more in British food production by investing in technology and growing protected crops. We’re determined to deliver more in sustainable production abroad with our first Hass avocado fruit from Fresquita Farms in Colombia arriving later this year."