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Mike Knowles



Total Produce targets modest growth

Company ups investment in Capespan and reveals 6.6 per cent increase in pre-tax profit for previous year

Total Produce targets modest growth

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Fresh produce multinational Total Produce has targeted revenues of €2.6bn for 2009, just slightly higher than the €2.52bn it earned in 2008 according to figures published today.

In a statement to the Irish Stock Exchange, the company announced it made a pre-tax profit of €46.5m in 2008, up 6.6 per cent on the previous year's figure. Within its produce division, pre-tax earnings rose 4.3 per cent to €42.4m.

While describing the result as "satisfactory" given the worsening trading environment, particularly in the second half of the year, the company's chairman Carl McCann admitted that the relative strengthening of the euro had adversely affected the overall result.

Without the negative impact of that fluctuation, he said, annual growth in Total Produce's adjusted pre-tax earnings had in fact been almost 11 per cent, with the group benefiting from a recent restructuring programme in the UK and a continued focus on keeping costs down and increasing efficiency during the previous 12 months.
Total revenue for 2008 grew to €2.52bn, meanwhile, an increase of 3.5 per cent year-on-year which was attributed primarily to the acquisitions of Dutch companies Haluco and Nedalpac, completed at the end of August 2008. The companies are expected to add €275m in additional revenue per year.

Mr McCann also revealed that, following the end of the financial year, Total Produce had increased its effective shareholding in its South African investment
in marketing and export company Capespan Group to over 15 per cent.

The group's revenue increase was similarly offset, however, by the lower translation value of non-euro revenues due to the strengthening of the euro during 2008. Without the currency shift, the group's overall revenue growth stood at 7.8 per cent for the year.

Looking ahead, Mr McCann said the group would continue its strategy of expanding through a combination of organic growth and acquisitions, but he accepted that trading conditions would be considerably tougher in 2009.

"Following the trend noted in the second half of 2008, consumer demand is less certain and in view of the tougher economic climate, it is prudent to take a more cautious view of the prospects for 2009," he observed. "However, Total Produce remains positive regarding the fundamentals in its markets and its position as one of the leading fresh produce companies in Europe.

"We are pleased that Total Produce achieved satisfactory earnings growth in 2008," continued Mr McCann. "While the group may not match those earnings in a tougher economic environment in 2009, Total Produce is targeting a very solid earnings performance for the year. The group is focused on expanding the business, both organically and through acquisition."

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