15 March 2002

Glanbia cheese & diary profits up

GLANBIA increased underlying profits by almost a quarter in 2001 thanks to strong performances in its Irish and US cheese and dairy ingredient businesses.

But the company, Irelands biggest dairy processor and the UKs second biggest cheesemaker, reported a disappointing year for some UK operations.

Overall pre-tax profits, before exceptional items, jumped 24% on the year to k66.6 (£41m) from sales which rose by 9.3% to k2.62bn (£1.61bn).

Dairy Food ingredients (Ireland and the US) accounted for almost 40% of turnover and achieved an operating margin of 5.8%.

Consumer foods, Glanbias UK and Irish dairy and meat products business, contributed half of the groups sales during the year. But a disappointing year in the UK, blamed on overcapacity and tough competition, capped overall operating margin to 1.5%.

Glanbia is reviewing its UK sliced meats business and, according to some reports, may withdraw from this market.

UK retail cheese operations were described as satisfactory, but the groups fresh pork operations, which supply retailers and processors, was hit by the foot-and-mouth outbreak. Glanbia stepped up imports from its Irish operation to compensate. &#42