Fruit distributor Fyffes has posted a 15.2% increase in group revenue for the 2005 financial year – at EUR1,742m – thanks to a favourable European market.

Total revenue, including the group’s share of its joint ventures and associates, was EUR2,174m, increasing 11.3% compared to 2004. Additional revenue arising from the first full year contribution from Everfresh in Sweden, acquired in May 2004, amounted to EUR104m.

Fyffes’ tropical produce division, including bananas, pineapples and melons, accounted for EUR474m of total revenue in 2005, compared to EUR385m in 2004.

Fyffes chairman Carl McCann said: “Fyffes has delivered excellent results in 2005, helped by very favourable market conditions in continental Europe.

“Trading to date in 2006 has been broadly in line with the group’s expectations, taking into account the impact of the previously announced increase in costs arising, in particular, from the change in banana import regulations.”
Operating profit, excluding the group’s share of the tax charge in its joint ventures, and associates increased 36.2%, at EUR115.8m, compared to EUR85m last year. Total operating profit amounted to EUR99.9m, compared to EUR76.6m in 2004.

Fyffes intends to establish a new company called Bluestone Properties, into which it will de-merge certain of its property assets, meaning Fyffes’ shareholders will directly own 60% of Bluestone, corresponding to EUR120m of net asset value. The de-merger proposal will be posted to shareholders in March 2006 in advance of an EGM to be held in late April 2006.

McCann added: “Preparation is well advanced for the proposed de-merger of certain of the group’s property assets into a new, separately quoted company. Detailed documentation is expected to be sent to shareholders before the end of March, for an EGM in late April.
“The group continues to focus on enhancing shareholder value, as demonstrated by its property de-merger initiative, including pursuing further attractive acquisitions and alliances.”

Fyffes also mentioned, in a statement, that the EU’s decision to revise its system of regulating banana imports from the start of 2006, has resulted in a changed trading environment for the industry – meaning it is still too early to accurately assess the full effect that these changes will have on the market.