Princes tucks into record sales of £1.7bn

CANNED food specialist Princes has reported a 15% surge in sales and a near 30% hike in profits on the back of both organic growth and acquisitions and partnerships.

The Japanese-owned, Liverpool-based group delivered record sales of £1.74bn in the year to March 31. Post-tax profits were £40.4m compared with £31.1m in 2012.
Princes is the UK’s largest supplier of canned food and, based on its previous year’s financial performance, ranks as the 10th largest food and drink company in the country.
Over the past three years it has acquired two major canned food production sites in East Anglia and formed a new company in Italy operating one of the most modern and efficient tomato processing, canning and packing sites in Europe.
Significant investments during the year included new warehouse and ingredient processing facilities at its soft drinks site in Bradford and a new production line at its edible oils site in Belvedere, Kent.
The company currently operates 14 production sites and employs over 6,000 people.
From a product perspective, highlights included the relaunch of the  Crosse & Blackwell brand with a range of canned soup and vegetable products sold in supermarkets and convenience stores across the UK.

Princes said it had made progress during the year with its strategy of expansion in continental European and international markets, increasing sales outside of the UK by 25% to £350m (2012: £280m). In addition to operating a number of leading food and drinks brands in the UK, Princes is now the leading canned fish brand in The Netherlands and owns the largest tuna brand in Austria, Vier Diamanten.
Managing director Ken Critchley said:“ We have responded to changing consumer needs with innovative new products for every meal occasion and, by expanding our distribution into more countries, we are reaching more shoppers, more often, with our growing product portfolio.
“Princes made excellent progress during the last financial year, driven by a commitment to becoming a first choice food and drink group. Growth has been achieved through a distinct strategic focus on the strength of customer and supplier partnerships across the group. This, coupled with substantial investment into our brands, sites and people, has resulted in UK and international growth, which is a core part of our strategy.”
Over the past three years, Princes has grown its sales by 47% and has employed an additional 1,350 people across its international operations.

The company’s brands include Aqua Pura, Crisp ‘n Dry, Crosse & Blackwell, Farrows, Jucee, Napolina, Shippam’s and Vier Diamanten, as well as the Princes brand itself.
The group also produces and sells certain Batchelors and Branston products under licence from Premier Foods and Mizkan Europe as well as certain Flora and Olivio products under licence from Unilever.