Hilton sees steady UK trade early in 2017
Published:  24 May, 2017

Meat packing business Hilton Food Group has reported a solid trading update for the year to date. 

In its update from 2 January to date, it reported that trading had been “in line with the board’s expectations”.

In the UK, Hilton’s turnover continued to grow relative to the same period last year, due to a combination of higher raw material pricing and some growth in trade.

Most of its international growth was driven by progess in Australia. It said: “We have continued to grow by developing the business in existing markets and also through our geographic diversification.

“In Australia, we have seen double-digit volume growth in the joint venture covering the Bunbury and Victoria sites. The development work in relation to the Queensland site has continued in line with plans, with a site having been identified for the construction of the plant and planning permission having been lodged.”

Postive news in other areas included production overhauls in Portugal. “The new business in Portugal is already seeing improvements in consumer and customer KPIs, with much of the production line redevelopment work now complete, and with logistics automation scheduled as the next phase.”

“Encouraging top-line growth” in the first quarter was seen in its Irish and Swedish businesses with “positive signals going forward” after a poor start in Holland whilst Denmark was deemed “more stable”.

Other operational highlights included the agreement to acquire a 50% share in Northern Ireland based Foods Connected, a market intelligence data management system company focused on the fresh food supply chain, which will be operated as a joint venture.

Commenting on the update, Darren Shirley of analyst Shore Capital, said: “We view Hilton Foods as medium- to long-term winner in the international food processing arena and, despite modest margins, we forecast robust growth, strong and sustained cash generation and see considerable potential for positive announcements on new or existing customer relationships over time.”