Greencore is unlikely to sell any of its Irish-based property assets in the foreseeable future.
The Dublin-headquartered food group has received expressions of interest which are being considered by management for its 125-acre site at Littlehampton, on the south coast of England.
However, speaking earlier this week on the back of the publication of the group’s better-than-expected annual results, Greencore’s chief executive, Patrick Coveney said any similar sale of its Irish landbank is not on the agenda. Those assets chiefly comprise the company’s former sugar producing sites in Carlow and Mallow.
With an improving balance sheet and good growth momentum, Greencore is not in a position where it has to sell such assets, but any land sale would also have to wait until the completion of ongoing remediation works at the Carlow plant.
Management is also keen to wait for a more pronounced recovery in the Irish commercial property market before looking at such sales as a viable possibility. Greencore recognised a £9.2m (€11m) exceptional charge in the first half of its recent financial year. That related to its Irish property portfolio
This was down to an impairment charge following the rezoning of a large proportion of the Irish property assets and was reflective of an ongoing softness in the property market and also factored in the expected costs of completing the remediation of the former Irish Sugar sites.
Greencore’s annual results, on Tuesday, delivered figures ahead of market expectations -with group revenues up by 3% to almost £1.2bn, pre-exceptional operating profit up by over 8% at £76.5m and adjusted pre-tax profits and earnings per share ahead by around 12% and 13%.
The revenue rise was all the more significant given the horsemeat contamination scandal, from earlier this year, knocked £15m off full-year revenues.
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