NWF Tanker

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Specialist fuel, food and feed distributor NWF Group has reported “strong” first-half trading and announced a £10m acquisition in an update to the London Stock Exchange this morning.

The group has agreed to takeover Sweetfuels, a 20 million litre fuel distributor based in Oxfordshire, supplying fuel to predominantly domestic customers across the Cotswolds.

The deal further expanded NWF’s geographic coverage within the UK and was aligned to the group’s development strategy of consolidating the highly fragmented fuels market while growing its existing geographical footprint, it said.

NWF also provided a trading update for the six months ended 30 November for its fuels, food and feeds divisions.

In food, where the group acts as a consolidator of ambient grocery products to UK supermarkets, trading continued to be “strong”, with good storage capacity utilisation and continued improvements in operating efficiency, it said. Demand from customers had been stable and service levels have remained high, NWF added.

Fuels delivered “strong” margins offsetting lower year-on-year volumes as unseasonably warm weather in the autumn months saw a reduction in consumption of fuel oils.

The performance momentum in feeds remained “very encouraging”, although volumes were lower than a year ago. The group added that commodity prices remained volatile across the first half but the business had been effective in passing through inflationary cost increases.

CEO Richard Whiting said: “We are delighted with our performance in the first half and to announce the acquisition of Sweetfuels, which adds a 26th depot to our UK footprint in an attractive new geography for NWF.

“We have a strong platform for continued growth as we leverage the benefits from the further expansion of our growing network.

“The industry remains highly fragmented, with many small operators, which provides us with further opportunities to consolidate the market and increase our market share. Our pipeline of acquisition prospects remains healthy and this remains a focus for our development activity.”

Morning update

Greencore has handed 700 workers at its Kiveton site in Sheffield a bumper pay increases ahead of Christmas.

The site supplies quiches and soups to major supermarkets, including Tescos and Sainsbury’s.

Drivers will receive pay increases between 20% and 33%, with the lowest paid drivers’ hourly rate rising from £10.86 to £14. They will also receive a bonus of £750.

Engineers will receive annual increases of between £1,840 and £3,480 and the lowest paid production workers have seen their pay increase by up to 21% since April 2021.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “This is a fantastic pay deal just in time for Christmas. The workers have shown resilience and determination.”

Greencore’s initial below inflation pay offers were rejected earlier on in the year and by October industrial action could not be ruled out.

Real Good Food has appointed Andy Richardson as a non-executive director with effect from January 2023.

Richardson has a wealth of expertise across a range of organisations at CEO, chairman and non-executive levels, including having been chairman of Rubicon Partners, CEO of Arc Specialist Engineering and CEO of Metalrax Group.

Real Good Food executive chairman Mike Holt said: “We wanted an independent director with transformational change management experience and skills to support the business.

“Andy’s expertise in leading manufacturing transformations is very relevant and I am confident that he will be able to help support the business in successfully delivering on its radical reform programme.”

The FTSE 100 is up 0.5% to 7,534.23pts this morning.

Early risers include McBride, back up 10% to 20.9p after yesterday’s fall, and Science in Sport, up 3.4% to 14.5p.

Food producers are under pressure this morning. Nichols is down 3.2% to 1,075p, Britvic is down 2.1% to 792.5p, Bakkavor is down 1.9% to 95.7p and Hilton Food Group is down 1.3% to 540.1p.

Yesterday in the City

The FTSE 100 soared 1.7% higher to 7,497.32pts yesterday.

Naked Wines, Hotel Chocolat Group and Ocado all registered big rises, up 7.4% to 122p, 6.9% to 155p and 4.1% to 647p respectively.

On the flip side, McBride slumped 8.4% to 19p.

Merry Christmas

And that’s it from the finance newsletter for 2022. Wishing all our readers a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year. See you in 2023.