Gluten-free expansion drives Finsbury Food sales jump

Shares in Finsbury Food Group lifted after the bakery business was buoyed by its expansion in gluten-free in the second half of the year.

The own-label bakery firm said group like-for-like revenues rose 3.1% to £299.3 million for the year to June 29, as sales accelerated towards the end of the year.

Like-for-like sales in the second half of the year were up 5.7% against the same period last year, it said.

This was driven by “strong organic growth”, improvement in price and new business wins, it added.

Total sales also boomed in the latter half of the year, on the back of its £17 million acquisition of gluten-free specialist Ultrapharm.

Finsbury said sales for the second half of the year jumped 11.7%, taking its total annual sales to £315.3 million, up 3.8% on last year.

The food firm, which makes cakes, bread and pastries for supermarkets and food-service businesses, said it is investing to grow the recently acquired ‘free-from’ bakery, and has nearly completed a new bakery in Poland.

Finsbury’s core UK bakery business saw sales rise 4.7% over the year. Its overseas business saw sales slide by 9.8% on a like-for-like basis, although it saw double-figure growth overseas including the acquired Ultrapharm business.

The performance comes amid significant pressure in the bakery sector, with rivals Hovis and Allied Bakeries announcing hundreds of redundancies between them in the past year.

It said that that cost inflation in the industry is “moderating” after major spikes, but these pressures still weigh down on the market.

The supermarket supplier nevertheless held firm on its profit forecasts for the year.

John Duffy, chief executive of Finsbury Food Group, said: “We have navigated through an intense period of cost inflation and broader macro issues, and as such, we are very pleased to be reporting a strong return to growth in the second half, delivering a performance that is in line with market expectations.

“We look forward to reaping the benefits of the investment in Ultrapharm, an acquisition that has further diversified the group into higher growth markets.

“As a focused and diversified group, we remain optimistic about the growth prospects ahead.”

Shares in the company were up 4% at 67.1p in early trading.

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