Operating profit at the company increased 0.3% to £26m in the year to 30 December 2012 and revenue grew 5.1% to £1bn.
Operating profit per kilogram of packed meat sold was down marginally by 0.6 pence, to 11.8p. Overall meat volumes grew by 4.8%.
Hilton’s new robotic store order-picking facility, which supplies Coop Danmark, commenced production in May 2012 and volumes, including third-party products such as poultry, increased in line with expectations, Hilton said.
“The group has maintained a high level of investment in its meat-packing facilities across Europe while exploring opportunities to progressively and profitably expand its business” - Robert Watson, Hilton
“The group has maintained a high level of investment in its meat-packing facilities across Europe while exploring opportunities to progressively and profitably expand its business,” said Hilton CEO Robert Watson OBE.
The results relate to the period before ‘horsegate’ hit the headlines and Hilton said it had not received any tests showing positives for horse DNA on any products it supplied.
In some markets the scandal had had no impact on sales, but in others, like the UK, Hilton had seen “quite a dramatic impact,” Watson said. There has since been gradual recovery.
The beef supply chain is incredibly resilient – proven by its ability to bounce back after previous major challenges such as BSE and foot & mouth disease, Watson added. However, “this issue is different because it has really impacted confidence”, although companies such as Hilton were set to benefit from “this [era of] more responsible strategic thinking” in the future, Watson predicted.
In Western Europe – where the majority of Hilton’s business is placed – operating profit climbed slightly, up 2.2% to £23.7m in the period.