Greencore draws a line under horsemeat as revenues rise

 
Kasmira Jefford
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GREENCORE posted a robust rise in full-year profits yesterday after recovering in the second half from a slump in the ready meal market caused by the horsemeat scandal.

The food group, which makes own label products such as sandwiches and desserts for major supermarkets, said revenues increased by three per cent to £1.19bn in the year to 27 September, while operating profits rose 8.1 per cent to £76.5m.

Greencore was caught up in the horsemeat scandal in February when a beef bolognese sauce it had supplied to Asda tested positive for traces of horse DNA. But subsequent tests showed there were no traces of horsemeat in its products.

As a result, sales across its ready meals business fell by 5.2 per cent in the year compared to market growth of 1.4 per cent.

“The first half was very difficult – like-for-like volumes in the UK were in decline, general volumes in UK food were soft and we had the impact of horsemeat and 10 per cent of the business was in beef-based ready meals,” boss Patrick Coveney said.

However, he said this was offset by a 4.4 per cent rise in sales across its food-to-go business, which accounts for over half of UK sales and includes sandwiches, sushi and salads.

Coveney said it was looking to expand this business into more transport hubs across the UK such as petrol stations and convenience stores.