Thursday 22 February 2018

Hilton Food profits rise as firm sidesteps horse-meat fallout

John Mulligan

John Mulligan

UK meat processing firm Hilton Food – which employs 300 people at a site in Drogheda – has escaped the consumer fallout from the Europe-wide horse-meat scandal, with profits nudging 1.2pc higher to £13.2m (€15.6m) in the first half of the year.

It generated the increased operating profit even as it shouldered start-up costs in Australia.

Earlier this year Larry Goodman's Associated Beef Processors (ABF) vehicle sold its 6pc stake in Hilton Food, having been an investor in the business since 2007. It acquired the stake soon after Hilton floated on the London Stock Exchange. ABF is reckoned to have netted about €14m for its stake sale.

Releasing interim results yesterday, Hilton said that revenue rose 9.4pc to £593.8m (€703.5m) in the six months to the middle of July.

It said its underlying trading performance had remained good, despite the impact of short-term industry issues in the UK and Ireland, and weak macroeconomic conditions across most of its European markets.

It said its volumes rose 0.7pc following the introduction of new lines in the Netherlands, but that was partly offset by continuing pressure from higher raw material meat prices on consumer demand.

Hilton said its turnover had benefited from the recovery of higher raw material meat prices and favourable exchange rate movements.

The company also said it was continuing to look for international expansion opportunities.

"Pressure from tight consumer expenditure and high meat prices is expected to continue in Europe over the remainder of 2013 and the group will incur further start-up costs in Australia in relation to the recently announced facility in Victoria," it added.

"The group nevertheless expects profits for the full year to be in line with the board's expectations, after factoring in the impact of the increased Australian start-up costs."

Irish Independent

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