Outgoing Greencore chief executive Patrick Coveney has said the sandwich and salad group’s trading performance in the early part of its new financial year has been “encouraging” and that there is “no indication” of a return to lockdown in the UK to threaten a halt to the group’s recovery.
He was speaking as Greencore reported a return to revenue and profit growth in its latest financial year.
Mr Coveney also said he has continued to have the full support of shareholders and investors for the strategy the convenience food group has been pursuing. It was announced last week that Mr Coveney will leave Greencore, after 14 years in charge, in March to head up UK coffee shop group SSP, which owns the Upper Crust chain amongst others.
Greencore chairman Gary Kennedy said investors reacted to news of Mr Coveney’s planned departure with “shock and surprise”, with the general mood “being one of support”.
Greencore’s revenues increased by 4.8% to £1.32bn (€1.56bn), in the 12 months to the end of September, and adjusted operating profit was up by 20% at £30m. The group’s new annual report also shows that Mr Coveney’s basic salary last year grew by 11% to €851,000 and his total remuneration package grew from €1.12m to €1.16m.
Greencore is the largest maker of pre-packed sandwiches in the UK, with it cornering the so-called ‘food-to-go’ market by providing the likes of Waitrose, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Marks and Spencer.
Mr Coveney said that Greencore has seen success through expanding into new sales channels like petrol forecourt stations and convenience stores. Marks and Spencer agreeing to provide Costa Coffee outlets with sandwiches will boost Greencore’s market share of the UK coffee shop sector to 60% by next summer, Mr Coveney said.
He said Greencore also has an eye on expanding to digital sales and selling its products through home delivery channels.
Mr Coveney said Greencore still plans to resume returning capital to shareholders this year, either through dividends or buybacks. He said the group is well-placed to weather any further disruption caused by the pandemic.
"The strong recovery of the UK food-to-go market, as well as solid performance in other convenience food categories, underpins this confidence," he said.