Singapore Food Industries remains locked in talks with staff at its Irish business Cresset with a view to possibly quitting the market, the company told just-food today (5 November).

SFI is looking to close the loss-making ready meals business and the management of International Cuisine, a UK unit of the Singapore group that runs Cresset, started talks with employees in September.

Those negotiations are ongoing, the company said. "We are looking at cutting our losses in Ireland and we are considering exiting the market," SFI told just-food.

SFI saw losses from its UK and Irish business widen during the third quarter of 2008. Losses reached S$2.5m (US$1.7m) compared to S$600,000 a year ago as the value of the pound fell against the Singapore dollar.

The weakness of sterling also hit SFI's turnover in the UK and Ireland, which fell 7.2%. However, when the effect of the weaker pound was stripped out of the results, the company saw the businesses generate a 5.4% increase in revenue to S$91.7m.

Moreover, sterling also hit SFI's results on a group-wide basis. The company booked a 9.9% fall in pre-tax profits to S$6.7m for the three months to the end of September. Revenue dipped 2.4% to S$158m. Net profit, however, was up 4.9% to S$5.8m.

Domestically, SFI posted a 13.8% rise in pre-tax profits to S$9.4m on the back of a 5.4% increase in sales to S$70.4m.

For the first nine months of the year, SFI reported a 7.8% rise in group pre-tax profits to S$33.1m. Turnover inched up 1.5% to S$500.7m.

SFI, meanwhile, said it is in "continuing dialogue with several parties" over the future of its businesses in China and Australia.

The company told just-food it was "looking at its options" in China, where it has "non-manufacturing sites" and a distribution network.

In Australia, SFI is mulling the future of its Urangan fishery after an order from the Australian government to stop fishing amid a shake-up of fishing rights in the country.