ABF said Allied Bakeries margins remain challenging but flagged progress in grocery

ABF said Allied Bakeries margins remain challenging but flagged progress in grocery

Associated British Foods said today (12 January) its grocery brands made "further margin progress" in the UK group's first quarter. 

In particular, ABF said margins at its Australian unit, George Weston Foods, were "much improved" in the 16 week period ended 7 January, "continuing the momentum of last year". 

However, while the company added volumes at its UK bakery business Allied Bakeries "remained strong" but conceded the business, which makes the Kingsmill bread brand, continued to see "challenging" margins in the tough UK bakery category. 

On a group-wide basis, including the contribution from ABF's retail banner Primark and its sugar business, the company said total sales rose 10% in the period when the impact of currency exchange was stripped out. ABF said "good growth" was delivered by all areas of the business. Including currency exchange sales were ahead 22% on last year "as a result of the weakening of sterling in late summer last year", the company noted. 

Looking to the full-year, ABF confirmed its outlook for "progress expected in adjusted operating profit and adjusted earnings".