Happy Egg hen

Noble Foods is kicking its restructuring plan into gear as it eyes a stock market listing after newly published accounts show its profits were slashed by more than half last year.

In the past two weeks the Happy Egg and Gü owner has appointed retail veteran John Gildersleeve as chairman and a new MD of its shell egg division as it seeks to bounce back from a tough 2015.

Newly filed accounts in Companies House for Noble Foods show sales dropped 22.2% in the year to 30 September 2015, while pre-tax profits slumped by 51.3% from £18.7m to 9.1m.

The results reflected Noble’s disposal of “non-core” activities during the period related to animal feeds and poultrymeats. Andrew Cracknell, CEO during the period, also said the profit slump was driven by “challenging market conditions”.

Cracknell stepped down in September 2015, and since then Noble has instigated a wide-ranging restructuring drive, including shaking up its leadership team, promoting Dale Burnett to CEO and giving more autonomy to divisional heads.

Former company chairman Peter Dean said in July Noble was looking to ramp up its growth with the aim of achieving a listing on the London Stock Exchange in the new few years.

Gildersleeve, former chairman of New Look, began his chairmanship of Noble at the start of September in a period Burnett said represented “a key time when we are seeking to accelerate the business”.

This week, Noble moved former Gü commercial director Veli Moluluo to MD of its £310m shell division as it finalises the structure for its turnaround push.

Noble said in a statement to The Grocer: “The current year shows good growth in the core egg business, reduced input costs and overheads and profits up on a like for like basis.”

Pre-tax profits reached a peak of £26m in 2012/13 as group revenues topped £600m.

Noble chose not to pay a dividend last year, having paid out £16m last year and £22m in each of the preceding two years.

The accounts reveal that staff costs at Noble dropped by 19% to £33m as average headcount fell by more than 16% to approximately 1,150 during the year.

Only one director received cash remuneration during the year, with their pay dropping from £1.54m in the 2013/14 financial year to £850,000 last year.

Reported profits fell 59% to £5.9m.