The establishment of The Lettuce Company and a move into mushroom production has helped give UK group G’s Fresh a significant boost in turnover.
The business this week filed accounts at Companies House showing turnover up 13 per cent to £237.7m (€292m) in the 53 weeks to 5 May 2012.
That increase was largely due to increased sales following the move into mushrooms and the arrangement to market Langmead Farms' products via newly-established The Lettuce Company, explained finance director Steve West.
While mushrooms currently only account for around five per cent of G’s business, the company has high hopes to increase production for a crop in which the UK is just 20 per cent self-sufficient.
Last week G’s opened a new mushroom site outside Ely and the business is also addressing environmental concerns with the addition of an anaerobic digestor.
But start-up costs associated with the new ventures led to pre-tax profits at G’s Fresh falling from £3.7m (€4.5m) a year ago to £1.1m (€1.4m). The tough economy and lower pricing as a result of greater volumes of product on the market also impacted on profitability, West pointed out.
“This is the worst recession ever,” he said. “The weather hasn’t helped either because our products are the kind that people like to eat in warmer temperatures. Another factor was last year’s E coli situation in Germany, which really affected people eating salads.”
Despite that and the continued poor weather, West said that the new financial year has “started more encouragingly”, with lower crop volumes on the market signalling stronger prices.
The company has also been pushing a range of new lines in the past year, including new introductions in the celery aisle.