Hill Biscuits

Custard Creams and bourbons maker Hill Biscuits has posted like-for-like sales growth of 11.7% in the year of its LDC-backed MBO, but mounting costs drove it to a pre-tax loss last year.

Newly filed accounts to 31 December 2017 show sales edged up 0.5% to £19.1m, reflecting one-off business in the prior year..

However, one-off costs to drive efficiencies and pressure from rising wage costs and input inflation hit margins.

EBITDA margin slipped from 9% to 4.8% and the business posted a pre-tax loss of £17k from a £1.3m profit in 2016.

CEO Steven Wetherby, who led the April-2017 MBO backed by private equity player LDC, said: ”Last year was a landmark year for Hill Biscuits. We secured the financial backing of LDC when we led a management buyout in April and we’ve maintained growth in sales at an underlying rate of 11.7 per cent, which is ahead of what we’re seeing in the market. 

“Following a significant capital investment programme, which included investing in our people, equipment and products, we’re off to a strong start in 2018 and are already seeing the benefits of our investments. We also have a number of opportunities in the pipeline, including further international growth, new product development, and new pack formats to meet the trend for greater portability and convenience. This all ensures that we’re well positioned to continue to drive profitable growth in 2018 and beyond.”

During the year the business faced exceptional items totalling £557k, compared to zero such charges in 2016.

Total sales in its domestic market fell 2.2% to £15.7m, while exports rose 15.3% to £3.4m driven by rising European sales and sales to the rest of the world.