Greencore US sandwich making

Greencore’s UK sales fell 1.3% in the third quarter of the year

Greencore has reported a drop in like-for-like UK sales in the third quarter that it blamed on poor weather and the horsemeat scandal.

The own-label food manufacturer said UK sales fell 1.3% in the 13 weeks to 28 June, excluding the impact of the acquisition of International Cuisine and sale of the Uniq chilled desserts business.

Greencore said poor weather affected trading for much of the period, and in the wake of the horsemeat scandal, sales of Italian ready meals were in decline.

To mitigate this, it said it had focused on maintaining tight cost controls across the UK business.

Analysts said the final quarter of the fiscal year should show an improvement in the UK.

“Q4 should see some benefit from the weather for the group’s summer lines and there has been slightly more encouraging macro data,” said Investec analyst Nicola Mallard.

Greencore said total sales increased 2.6% to £305.8m during the quarter. US revenues were 50% higher, boosted by the acquisitions of MarketFare Foods and Schau and a new supply contract with Starbucks.

Mallard said: “We do expect the improving US result to supplement some modest UK profit advance.”