PE group Equistone sold Whitworths to the dried fruit, nut and seed wholesaler Anatolia

Dried fruit supplier Whitworths saw sales slide in 2017 after its prices were squeezed by “major customers”, following its acquisition by Turkish fruit giant Anatolia.

The home baking specialist blamed increasing “price pressures” for the drop in sales to £167.1m, for the 61 weeks to 30 December, down from £220m in the previous 78 week period – representing a 3% fall per annum.

The fall in revenues was impacted by Whitworth’s decision to exit “non-strategic” areas of the business, including stuffing and cornflour.

Despite this, the company also heavily reduced its losses for the year, cutting them from £49.9m in 2016, to £3.5m last year, following the acquisition.

In May 2017, PE group Equistone sold Whitworths to the dried fruit, nut and seed wholesaler for an undisclosed figure.

At the time, the move was heralded as an opportunity to provide growth at the troubled UK brand leveraging its capability with the sourcing and packing capability of Anatolia on Turkish grown product.

Whitworth’s significant reduction in losses over the year was largely affected by the prior period’s impairment for unrecoverable loans from the acquisition, said Whitworth’s marketing director, Phil Gowland.

He added, that its 2017 losses were also impacted by “significant costs attributed with the acquisition”, but that it was now seeing strong branded performance in 2018.

“Since ownership stabilisation we have seen some strong recent performance,” he commented.

“The brand portfolio market performance has seen 26% year-on year growth in the 52 weeks to 12August 2018 driven by continued NPD success in snacking and distribution wins.”