Greencore, Northern Foods to merge


Greencore Group and Northern Foods are planning to merge, forming Essenta Foods, it was announced today.

The proposed merger would be completed by the end of June, and would save about £40 million in combined costs for the firms.

The news came as Greencore announced its preliminary results for the year ended September 24th 2010. Group sales from continuing operations at Greencore rose almost 7 per cent to €856 million for the year, while operating profit was up 17.6 per cent to €59.7 million.

Nebt debt was reduced by 31.8 per cent to €193.4 million.

Greencore said its convenience foods division put in astrong performance, with sales in continuing business rising by 10.7 per cent to €784.5 million and operating profit growing 21 per cent to €54.1 million.

Earlier this year, Greencore completed the sale of its malt and water businesses, and sold its continental Europe convenience food business in August.

Group chief executive Patrick Coveney said Greencore had made "enormous progress" in reshaping the group this year.

"This is reflected in the strong sales, margin and profit growth in the results of our continuing business announced today," he said. "Furthermore, an effective disposal programme has dramatically reduced group net debt and provides the basis for further development in convenience food."

Greencore said trading in the early part of its fiscal year 2011 is "encouraging", although sales growth is at more modest levels. Demand for it convenience foods is "buoyant", it said.