UK fresh prepared foods and produce company Geest has confirmed that its operating profit for the year ended 28 December 2002 is expected to be no less than that reported for 2001 before profit on sale of assets and that the tax rate expected to be charged against profit is 21%.

Geest is anticipating total sales to have grown by some 14% for the full year and sales of fresh prepared foods in the UK to have grown by around 8%. The company said that its Continental European prepared foods business is expected to have shown sales growth of over 20% and now represents approximately 6% of total sales. The remainder of Geest’s sales, in wholehead produce, will have grown by over 40%, following a one-off consolidation in supply by a large customer.

Geest also said that it anticipates good growth in consumer demand for fresh prepared foods, both in the UK and in continental Europe, despite challenging conditions in the UK retail market.