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May 31, 2002

UK: Big Food Group says recovery on track

Big Food Group, the UK frozen food retailer formerly known as Iceland, has issued a positive statement outlining its recovery programme. The group has made savings of £21.1m (US$30.9m) from the integration of the Booker and Iceland businesses, and predicting annual savings of £30m. Pre-exceptional profits in the year to 29 March were £42.9m, at the upper limit of forecasts.

Big Food Group, the UK frozen food retailer formerly known as Iceland, has issued a positive statement outlining its recovery programme.

The group has made savings of £21.1m (US$30.9m) from the integration of the Booker and Iceland businesses, and predicting annual savings of £30m. Pre-exceptional profits in the year to 29 March were £42.9m, at the upper limit of forecasts.

Net sales came in at £5.22bn, while like-for-like sales rose by 0.3%.

David Shriver, analyst at CSFB, said volatility was to be expected as Iceland shed unprofitable sales. If like-for-like sales had not picked up in a year there would be cause for concern, he said.

Shares in the Big Food Group  rose more than 9% in response to the news.

CEO Bill Grimsey, formerly chief executive of the Wickes DIY chain, admitted, however: “It’s definitely a more difficult job than I thought when I came in. I thought the company was making £140m, not £40m. In terms of a recovery, relative to Wickes, it’s more complicated.”

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