Smarties ice cream

R&R Ice Cream has announced record sales for 2015, bringing turnover within striking distance of the €1bn mark.

Reported revenues were up €153.7m (+18.3%) to €991.6m (£766m), accounts for the year ended December 31 2015 show, while EBITDA rocketed 34.1% to €187.7m (£145.3m).

Most of the revenue growth (€96.3m) came from R&R’s Australian ice cream business Peter’s, which it bought from Pacific Equity Partners in June 2014.

Its South African ice cream business, bought from Nestlé for €8.6m last May, also put in a strong post-acquisition performance, accounting for €32.9m of additional revenue last year.

There was also organic sales growth (€25.8m) in Europe, particularly from France and Italy, the company said.

In the UK, where R&R produces a number of Nestlé and Cadbury branded ice creams under licence, sales were “particularly adversely affected” by bad weather, the company said.

However, it managed to increase UK revenues by €8.0m, or 3.2% year on year, after achieving growth in discounter and convenience channels and in super-premium.

R&R said there was no further update on its potential joint venture with Nestlé, announced at the end of last year. The proposed merger would see R&R run almost all of Nestlé’s ice cream business outside the US, with a particular focus on Africa and Europe.

“A further announcement will be made in due course, as appropriate,” said the company.

R&R group CEO Ibrahim Najafi told The Grocer two years ago the company was targeting €1bn sales after expanding aggressively outside Europe.

The company has also continued to invest in the UK, completing a £25m update of its Leeming Bar factory last December and purchasing the site where its Skelmersdale factory is located, as well as investing in plant and machinery to improve operational efficiencies