The world’s largest spice manufacturer, McCormick and Company, has seen its shares hold strong recently as it announced record sales and earnings per share in 2001.

Turnover for the year ended 30 November 2001 was up 12% to US$2.4bn, generated not only from sales of basic spices in grocery stores, but also through the company’s presence in several different sectors, including fastfood restaurants KFC and Burger King. Sales to restaurants increased 8% in 2001, despite the decline in restaurant patronage after 11 September. Spice sales to snacking companies grew 12%.

The 2001 acquisition in French spice company Ducros is expected to further improve the company’s margins.

Earnings per share for were US$2.09, and company shares rose 20% over the course of the last year.

Robert J. Lawless, chairman, president and CEO of McCormick, commented: “We are particularly please with this performance, given today’s more difficult environment.”

McCormick revealed however that it is currently undergoing a cost-cutting initiative that has already seen it lose 135 employees. Some distribution centres in the US and some factories in Canada will be closed. The company said that when the US$25.6m restructure is completed, 275 jobs will be lost.