Maple Leaf UK rides out cost pressures

29 February, 2008
Page 6 
Canadian-owned Maple Leaf Foods has announced fourth-quarter results for 2007, which revealed an 11% increase in Bakery Product Group sales to $393m (£200m) up from $355m (£180m) in the last quarter of 2006.
The group does not separate out the earnings of its UK divisions. In the past two years Maple Leaf has acquired five UK businesses: the Harvestime bakery in Walsall in 2006, Avance (UK) and the French Croissant Company in December 2006, La Fornaia in August 2007 and the Bernard Matthews bakery in Dunstable in November 2007.Adjusted operating earnings for the year rose 16% to $116.7m. Maple Leaf's report said: "In the UK, the benefits of price increases were not sufficient to offset the impact of higher input costs and investments in promotion and advertising. However, these headwinds were offset by the positive contribution of acquisitions and organic growth in bagel and other speciality bakery categories."The company expects to see continued growth in the speciality and bagel markets.Marketing and innovation director Guy Hall said the firm will launch new products in its New York Bagel range this year.Hall added: "The general sentiment would be that we've had stable economic conditions for 10 years but in the last 12-18 months it has been turned on its head. What the future holds we cannot say. We're into choppy and uncertain waters. If we've got one overriding concern it's the cost of price increases coming into the business." Maple Leaf has negotiated price rises with its customers, including the major retailers, he added.



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