Grampian back in black after hard year

Grampian Country Foods has returned to profit after surviving the worst trading period in the history of the group. The company recorded pre-tax profits of £5.1m for the year leading up to May 30. Trading profits were £17.3m, with £12.2m going to pension and

restructuring costs.

The figures are a considerable leap from the £40.5m pre-tax loss recorded for the year leading up to 2006. Losses in this period were attributed to a range of factors, including increasing raw materials costs, avian influenza and the growing challenge from low-cost overseas competitors having a generally deflationary effect on product prices.

In a memo to staff, group managing director Eddie Power said the turnaround was achieved despite the competitive nature of the marketplace and rising production costs. "We have recently won new business in our chicken and pork divisions and I am confident of further business wins in the months ahead."

Power added that staff should not become complacent, with many challenges ahead including

high animal feed prices, export

restrictions and disease. The firm is currently having its strategy and

financing reviewed by appointed advisors, including investment bank JP Morgan Cazenove. Power said the group was trading satisfactorily and comfortably within its agreed banking facilities.

"Our most important challenge now is a to ensure the group trades profitably in all divisions and deli-vers a successful Christmas for all our customers," he said