Surviving Tough Economic Conditions Is Piece of Cake; Finsbury Reports 68% Profits Boost

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Byline: Aled Blake Business Correspondent

PREMIUM and specialist cake and bread manufacturer Finsbury Food has reported an increase in profits of 68%in the last year.

The Cardiff-headquartered business said its pre-tax profit for 2009 was pounds 7.7m, up frompounds 4.6m the year before. Finsbury saw like-for-like sales across the group increase by 13% over the same period.

Earlier this month the company revealed that chief executive David Brooks would be standing down, with a pounds 300,000 pay-off.

He will be replaced by Martin Lightbody, group strategic development director, whowill take over as full-time chief executive from September 29.

Finsbury Food said it was planning to push through a third round of price increases in just over a year as it looks to combat continuing cost pressures.

Mr Lightbody said: "Challenges, such as the economic environment in which we are operating, bring opportunities.

Finsbury is in great shape to seize them.

"We have a great team managing our newly created three distinct divisions - cake, bread and free from - strong customer relationships and a market leading position in the UK cake industry. As the newly-appointed chief executive, I relish the opportunity of focusing on driving organic growth over the next 12 to 18 months."

David Marshall, the company chairman, said: "This has been a year which has seen the group continue its development against a much more challenging market environment.

"Against this, all our businesses experienced significant turnover growth. We have excellent innovation skills within our group, broad production capability and diversity in our product portfolio - all of which equip us well to deal with the challenges we face.

"The first 10 weeks of the year to June 2009 have seen the upward sales trend continuing.

The board is confident that we have a new team which can continue the good work of recent years."

Mr Brooks warned of a "challenging" time ahead for the industry, with exchange rates and rising commodity prices posing potential problems for the business.

But he said: "Challenging periods can also provide opportunities for businesses, particularly those which can be nimble and quick to react to the changes in consumer trends. …