Retail majors Ahold and Tesco are preparing to announce first-quarter results, while bakery group ARYZTA and US spreads firm JM Smucker look set to detail continued progress in growing profits over the past year. Meanwhile, we can expect free-from to take centre stage in two European trade shows and UK exporters will be discussing opportunities in CEE countries. 

Tuesday 4 June

Netherlands-based Ahold will report its first-quarter sales. Throughout the choppy waters of 2012, Ahold put in a solid operating performance. The retailer, which operates in the Netherlands and the US, has made good progress on its cost reduction programme. However, the company is yet to set out a clear path for how it will translate its strong cash position into shareholder returns. Management has indicated it will look to M&A to grow its business, could an update on the progress made be included in its Q1s on Tuesday?

Swiss bakery group Aryzta will issue its third-quarter report to the market. The company has booked steadily rising sales and earnings throughout the year, and suggested that consensus estimates, which put FY profit just shy of EUR325m look “reasonable”. However, the firm is working to accelerate growth into 2014, when it has set the target of double-digit EPS growth. As part of its drive to grow profits, Aryzta has said it will boost its business with European retailers. While it is unlikely that any immediate surprises are in store, the market will be watching the progress being made on its longer-term growth initiatives.

Meanwhile, the Free From Food 2013 exhibition will open its doors in Freiburg in Germany. The event, which runs from 4-5 June, is Europe’s largest dedicated free from trade show and will see exhibitors in the rapidly growing free-from space converge to lay out their wares to buyers from Europe and beyond.

Wednesday 5 June

Tesco, the UK’s largest retailer, will be unveiling its first-quarter sales on Wednesday. All eyes will be on its domestic performance this quarter. When Tesco delivered its full-year numbers, the group hailed improved sales trends in the UK. The retailer has focused on extending its appeal by developing its multichannel offering, improving its in-store experience and revamping its own label lines (with a particular emphasis on fresh products). But even as Tesco continues to invest in its UK business, competition in the market is intensifying and the focus on pricing and promotion has sharpened. With much to prove, Tesco will need to demonstrate that it is maintaining its momentum at home.

JM Smucker, the US condiment group, has been on something of a roll: booking higher sales and earnings in the first three quarters of the year. The question is, will it continue on its upward trajectory as it rounds off the fiscal? Its annual results are out on Wednesday.

The company has felt the benefit of lower commodity costs, while profits have been boosted by the contribution of its recently-acquired Sara Lee coffee business. However, the group has some significant longer-term expansion plans. In particular, the US focused jam maker intends to grow its business in China to drive long-term growth. With a fair wind in its sails, management seems poised to report a bumper set of full-year results and could use the opportunity to detail its plans to drive growth.

Thursday 6 June

The UK’s Food and Drink Federation and UKTI are hosting an event on Thursday to examine export opportunities in central and eastern Europe. Speakers will feature major retailers, including Tesco, food and drink leads in the key countries as well as distribution and logistics experts and case studies of successful exporters.

Friday 7 June

Again, the spotlight will be on the high growth free-from market as another trade show – The Allergy and Free From show – opens its doors, this time welcoming the London crowd. The event, which runs from 7-9 June, will include a number of highlights as it looks to help develop demand in the already high-growth free-from sector. These will include sessions on food allergies as well as free-from cooking classes in the “Sainsbury’s Kitchen”.