Happy Egg Co eggs

Happy Egg Co owner Noble Foods has put its mooted IPO on ice as it focuses on regrowing revenues after significant restructuring last year.

The group, which also owns Gü Puds, had previously signalled its intention to explore a float to enable joint owners Peter Dean and Michael Kent to reduce their shareholding.

However, after showing a fall in sales and profitability amid a rebuild programme, Noble has told The Grocer it has shelved any immediate plans for an IPO.

A Noble Foods Group spokesperson said: “While an IPO was once an option, the group is now entirely focused on delivering additional organic growth as well as making further acquisitions that complement Noble’s expertise.”

Newly filed UK accounts show sales in the main operating company Noble Foods Group fell by 27.3% last year as it shifted non-core assets out of the business. Total turnover dropped to £327.2m in the year to 30 September 2016 from £450m after restructuring that saw animal feed and poultry meats businesses transferred to fellow group companies.

This transferred business generated £96.9m of sales in 2015, while the shedding of its investments in other group companies, including Didier’s Patisserie and Noble Desserts, previously generated £23.8m.

Noble said the transfer of these assets were part of a “strategic re-organisation to gear up for long-term sustainable growth”. The changes also saw the appointment of retail veteran John Gildersleeve as chairman to replace Peter Dean and a new MD of its shell egg division as it sought to bounce back from what a challenging market conditions in 2015.

These disposals were also partly responsible for a 32.7% dip in pre-tax profits to £5.6m, .

Noble said the restructuring was already having a beneficial effect on trading in its new financial year. It said: “While conditions have been challenging for the food and drink industry as a whole, the re-organisation is having a positive impact on growth in the current year.”Since year-end Noble has launched a new premium egg range named Heritage Breeds, featuring duck, hen and quail eggs from British farms, and overseen its biggest egg marketing campaign to date.

It has also announced a new Gü Puds factory will be built in Bishop’s Stortford to increase capacity.

Group revenues at Noble peaked in 2012/13, topping £645m and generating pre-tax profits of £17.4m.