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Pork and poultry producer Cranswick saw revenues accelerate in the third quarter as volume growth and higher prices contributed to growth.

Cranswick said all four of its product categories were strongly ahead of the corresponding period in the UK during the 13 weeks to 24 December 2022.

This growth reflected solid underlying volume growth together with further cost inflation recovery.

Trading in December was particularly robust, underpinned by strong demand for fresh pork, convenience and gourmet festive ranges.

Poultry revenue growth reflected a positive contribution from the new Hull breaded poultry facility, which offset lower sales from the Hull cooked poultry facility. The group noted there was a “very limited” impact on fresh poultry revenue following avian influenza outbreaks at five farms across its poultry farm estate early in the period, but that it received full financial compensation for all lost birds.

“In recent weeks the incidence of confirmed cases in the UK has reduced, but we continue to enforce strict biosecurity protocols across all our farms,” it said.

Far East export sales were also well ahead of the same period last year, with slightly lower volumes comfortably offset by significantly stronger pricing.

Cranswick said its investment plans remained firmly on track with several substantial projects in progress which would enhance the capability of and add capacity to several production facilities, as well as driving through further operating efficiencies.

During the period the group invested further in its pig farming operations to lift its self-sufficiency to over 40% of its total requirement for British pigs.

The outlook for the current financial year remains in line with the board’s expectations.

Net debt increased during the period, reflecting the usual seasonal uplift in working capital, further investment in biological assets and its ongoing capital investment programme.

CEO Adam Couch commented: “We have delivered another strong quarter of growth, building on the momentum generated in the first half of the year. Our core UK market remains extremely resilient as our customers and the UK consumer continue to recognise and appreciate the quality, value and versatility of our pork and poultry product ranges.

“The broad-based inflationary pressure we are experiencing across our cost base continues to be well controlled and mitigated.

“Our relentless focus on innovation together with the passion and dedication of our people are the key enablers of our continued successful progress and development. I would like to thank all of our colleagues for their ongoing commitment and support.”

Cranswick shares are up 2.9% to 3,230p on the update.

Morning update

Sainsbury’s yesterday revealed that Bestway Group has further growth its stake in the business.

News emerged on Friday that Bestway had bought a 3.45% stake in Sainsbury’s, worth almost £200m.

Documents yesterday showed Bestway had further grown that stake to 104.8 million shares – now a 4.47% stake in the business. Its initial stake was 80.8 million shares.

At Sainsbury’s closing price on Tuesday that additional stake was worth a further £63m.

Hotel Chocolat Group has appointed Jon Akehurst as the company’s chief financial officer.

He will join the company and board when his appointment becomes effective in May 2023.

Akehurst’s career includes management and leadership roles with General Mills, Mars, Aggreko and most recently as CFO Terumo Corporation’s Aortic Division. .

He replaces Matt Pritchard, who stepped down as CFO on 31 January after nine years with the company. Hotel Chocolat co-founder Peter Harris, will be interim CFO until Akehurst arrives.

CEO Angus Thirlwell said: “Jon joins at an exciting time for Hotel Chocolat. His skills will underpin our determination to get back to running a tight ship operating model, with EBITDA of 20%-plus in 2025 within our sights.”

Workers are returning to the office, according to Springboard’s January footfall numbers.

Footfall on UK high streets was up 17.2% on weekdays compared with 2022, outpacing the smaller increase of 10.3% at weekends, suggesting that employees have been tempted back into the office for the 2023.

Across all UK retail destinations annual footfall was up 10.7% on January 2022.

However, the gap in footfall from 2019 widened in January to –12.3% from –10.9% in December; down 15.8% in high streets, 16.2% in shopping centres and 0.7% in retail parks.

Footfall declined in the first week of January by 3.3% from the week before, but rose in each of the three subsequent weeks, averaging growth of 2.2% with an average week-on-week increase in high streets from the second to the fourth week of January of 3.8%.

On the markets this morning, the FTSE 100 is up 0.5% to 7,799.1pts.

Risers include Ocado, up 5.6% to 697.4p, Just Eat, up 5.6% to 2,148.5p and Science in Sport, up 3.7% to 14p.

Fallers include Pets at Home, down 1.6% to 353.8p, PayPoint, down 1.1% to 501.3p and Finsbury Food Group, down 1% to 99p.

Yesterday in the City

The FTSE 100 closed yesterday down 0.1% to 7,761.1pts.

Sainsbury’s was up another 0.4% to 263.7p on Bestway building its stake – taking its rise since Friday to more than 10%.