Fletchers owner in big profits rise

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The new owner of Fletchers Group of Bakeries - which has a factory in Sheffield - said it is ready to buy up struggling rivals as it posted a 76 per cent rise in annual pre-tax profits to £11.4m.

Finsbury Food, which makes cakes and bread for customers including Britain’s major supermarkets, said revenues rose 46 per cent to £256.2m in the year to June 27 as it continued to expand.

Sales rose 6.1 per cent on a like-for-like basis, helped by the success of franchised products linked to children’s film and TV favourites such as Frozen, Spiderman, Minions and Peppa Pig.

But chief executive John Duffy said that with the economic outlook remaining uncertain, consumer budgets limited, and discount retailers continuing to eat into the grocery market share, the market could be tough for smaller players.

“If you’re up against a well-run, well-invested larger business, it’s increasingly hard to compete in the area of food.

“I think we’re seeing a number of small food businesses go into receivership - we’ve just bought one - and I see more opportunities of this kind in the future.”

Finsbury completed the acquisition of East Kilbride-based Johnstone’s Just Desserts from administrators in June, saving more than 100 jobs.

The firm, which employs 3,000, bought the Sheffield-based Fletchers Group of Bakeries last October for £56m. It also has factories in Cardiff, Hamilton, Twechar, Salisbury, London and Manchester.

Chairman Peter Baker said: “Finsbury Foods has undergone a transformation.”

Fletchers came back from a devastating fire at its Claywheels Lane site at Wadsley Bridge in July 2006.