Kerry Group can offer Irish graduates opportunities all over the world, chief executive Stan McCarthy told the group’s AGM yesterday.
Urging graduates to “pick up and relocate”, he said they could develop their careers with the global food company which has 23,000 employees in 25 countries.
Last year, the group spent €380m in acquisitions and established manufacturing operations for the first time in India, South Africa and Argentina, all in flavourings and ingredients.
Mr McCarthy expects spending on acquisitions this year of between €100m and €200m and said the group was continuing to integrate acquisitions completed in 2011.
Saying he was “very excited” about China, he pointed out that the group’s Chinese operations were among their fastest growing.
With Kerry shares currently trading at around €35, there was a sense of satisfaction among the attendance of more than 100 at the AGM in the Brandon Hotel, Tralee. Later this month, they will be receiving a dividend of 22.40c per share.
Shareholder John O’Flynn, from Cork, said well managed companies like Kerry Group would help pull Ireland out of recession.
“If ministers in the last government did their job as well as the Kerry Group, we would not be in the mess we’re in today,” he said.
Last year, sales increased by 7% to €5.3bn and there was a trading profit of €501m, up 6.4%.
An interim management statement for the first quarter of this year, issued in conjunction with the AGM, said the group continued to perform satisfactorily, despite more challenging trading conditions.
Reported revenue increased by almost 10%, reflecting growth of 3.8% when account is taken of acquisitions and currency translation.
Kerry Foods also achieved an “encouraging business performance”.
Mr McCarthy, emphasising the importance of having healthy products in line with consumer demands, said the group benefited from the launch of the 100% natural Denny deli-style ham. He also reported progress with Galtee, Dairygold and Charleville brands.
He also said the group had the processing facilities in Listowel, Charleville and Newmarket to cater for the projected increase in milk production, arising from the abolition of quotas.
The fall in milk prices is temporary, Mr McCarthy said, and he expected demand to grow.
Also yesterday, the group confirmed the closure of its Headland Foods manufacturing facility in Grimsby, north-east England, where 330 people were employed.
The closure is due to a market downturn and competition which made production unsustainable and a spokesman said every effort is being made to find alternative employment for the workers.
The Grimsby closure will enable the group to consolidate production at its plant in Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan, the spokesman said.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved