Departing Greencore CEO says firm can look to invest after return to profits


ritain‘s biggest sandwich maker has returned to profit and pre-Covid takeaway trading since lockdowns lifted, boosted by workers heading out to grab a bite to eat close to home.

The listed Greencore supplies supermarkets including M&S, convenience stores on high streets and travel hubs.

Revenues rose almost 5% to £1.32 billion in the year to September 24. The group reported £27.8 million in pre-tax profits, from a £10.8 million loss in the prior year.

The Dublin-headquartered firm raised £90 million in equity from shareholders last year to help see it through the pandemic, and slashed debts in the period. Today it reaffirmed full-year guidance in line with market expectations, despite facing surging supply chain and staffing costs.

Chief executive Patrick Coveney told the Standard: “The only caveat I would put against that is if you were to see a reimposition of large-scale lockdowns… but it doesn’t seem to me from what Government are saying that is likely.

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“What has been very reassuring for us, particularly over the last 7-8 months, is just how quickly the food to go market has come back. Our revenue and volumes in the food to go area are back to where they were pre-Covid.”

Coveney added that there continued to be a significant shift away from city centre and towards suburban sales as hybrid working set in.

The CEO is set to leave Greencore after 14 years at the helm to head up catering giant SSP. Looking forward, he said: “We’ve been able to rebuild our balance sheet and get our leverage level back to 2x. It gives us the strength to protect and invest in the business going forward.”

Analysts at house broker Shore Capital noted “pleasingly strong cash flow”, but cautioned that “omicron reminds us of the fragility of rebuilding mobility”.