•  Sales edge up, "in line"
  •  FX drags on Lightbody 
  •  "Confident" on H2 outlook

Finsbury Food Group booked an increase in first-half sales this morning (23 January), driven by a "strong" performance from its bread and free-from division.

The UK baker said sales revenues were "in line" with management expectations, rising to GBP103.3m (US$163.8m) from GBP102m in the comparable period of last year.

The company saw its bread and free-from division sales rise by 7% while cake revenues were up 2%. These gains were partially offset by declining sales at Lightbody Europe, Finsbury's 50%-owned European business. Lightbody sales dropped 17% on unfavourable currency exchange.

While consumers "remain under considerable pressure" management said the group remained "confident" of delivering growth and efficiency opportunities in the second-half of the year.

Show the press release

Finsbury Food Group plc
Pre-Close Trading Statement
Finsbury Food Group plc (Aim: FIF), a leading manufacturer of cake, bread and gluten free bakery goods, is today providing an update on trading for the first half of the current financial year, ended 29th December 2012, prior to entering its close period.
Total Group sales revenues increased to £103.3m, versus £102m in the prior year period, in line with management expectations for the period.
The UK Cake business grew 2%, £1.1m, broadly in line with the market whilst as forecast Lightbody Europe, the Group's 50% owned joint venture business, declined by £1.6m or 17% due to adverse exchange rate movements.
The Group's Bread and Free From division continued to deliver strong growth, an increase of £1.8m or 7% versus the prior year, to give total sales of £27.4m for the period. This is an encouraging continuation of the divisions long term performance trend.
Our outlook on the trading environment has stood us in good stead during the first half and remains unchanged for the second half. Consumers remain under considerable financial pressure and continue to be value conscious and deal focused. Key ingredients such as sugar, egg and flour are also inflationary as are more general costs such as energy. Finsbury's focus on internal efficiency improvements as well as sales growth and recovery of commodity inflation via pricing has been successful in slightly improving first half operating margins although they remain low.
The Group remains confident of continuing to achieve growth and efficiency opportunities across its businesses and is trading comfortably in line with profit and debt reduction expectations.
John Duffy, Chief Executive of Finsbury Food Group plc, commented;
"Following last year's significant sales growth ahead of the markets in which we operate, I am pleased with the resilient growth and efficiency improvements delivered in the first half across the Group businesses in what has been a tough marketplace.
"November's successful equity raise, the first for five years, will accelerate our efficiency investments in the largest cake business whilst also allowing us to meet our strengthened target balance sheet during 2013. I am confident this is the best response to the continued market challenges ahead."

Original source: Finsbury Food Group