Heinz reports pre-tax profits increase to €17.9m
The Ireland-based operations of US food giant Heinz increased its pre-tax profits almost 20 per cent to £14.6 million (€17.9 million) in the year to the end of April 2012, despite a decline in the frozen ready meals market and competition from retailers’ own-brand ranges.
In documents filed to the Companies Office, Heinz cited “retailer focus on their own-brand ranges, aggressive competitor activity and demographic changes” among the “continuing pressures” on the Irish grocery market.
HJ Heinz Frozen and Chilled Foods Limited, which has a registered office in Dundalk, and its subsidiary HJ Heinz Company (Ireland) recorded turnover of £97.4 million during the period, “a modest increase” on the previous year, its accounts show.
The parent company manufactures and distributes frozen ready meals and pizzas under the Weight Watchers from Heinz brand for sale in the Irish, UK, Swedish and French markets, with the British market representing more than 90 per cent of the its turnover.
The directors placed the increase in turnover, up from £96.3 million the previous year, in the context of a retrenchment in the frozen ready meals category as a whole.
They said the company had made improvements in its gross margin as a result of “a continuing strong focus on reducing operational costs and maximising returns from promotional activity and media spends”.
In their report, the directors added that they were “confident” that the company’s frozen foods business will grow in the current financial year as a result of promotions, brand investment and new product development.
The Dublin-based HJ Heinz Company (Ireland) sells, markets and distributes all Heinz brands, including its Heinz Beanz, Heinz Tomato Ketchup and Heinz soup brands, in both Northern Ireland and the Republic.
The directors said turnover in this subsidiary business had also shown a modest increase, despite commodity cost pressures.
But they cautioned that the commercial environment in Ireland “will remain highly competitive”.