sweets mints centenary

Big Bear’s latest accounts showed increased losses in a sign Valeo’s turnaround of the business has yet to deliver results

Valeo Foods has claimed it has hit the €1bn sales mark as its aggressive acquisition strategy continued to bear fruit.

The Irish company’s latest accounts showed revenues up almost 25% to €790.6m in the year ended March 2019 primarily driven by acquisitions, including the takeover of Barratt owner Tangerine Confectionery.

Profits, excluding one-off transaction costs of €9.1m, rose 33% to €38.6m.

Since the end of its 2019 financial year, Valeo acquired struggling crisps brand Kettle Foods and Christmas puddings maker Matthew Walker, adding a total of €155m to its annualised turnover.

Following these transactions, the company said it had “increased its annualised turnover to over €1bn”.

Writing in the annual report, Valeo’s CEO Seamus Kearney and CFO Brendan Freeney said the company “delivered a solid year-on-year performance despite continuing challenges in the retail and economic environment”.

“The group remains well placed to grow in future years” and “continues to engage in disciplined M&A activity”, the pair continued.

These latest deals are two of the 14 completed by the CapVest-owned company since its inception in 2010, including the buyout of Rowse Honey, Balconi and Robert Roberts.

The deal-hungry company could also be close to completing a buyout of Jacob’s UK arm from United Buscuits’ owner Pladis as discussions between the two had been going on “for a while”, City sources told The Grocer in October. Valeo already owns the Jacob’s brand in Ireland.

At a brand level, the latest accounts for Fox’s Glacier Mints maker Big Bear showed continued losses ahead of the move to merge it into Valeo’s better-performing Tangerine in October.

Big Bear’s pre-tax losses increased to £8.1m in the year ended March 2019 from £2.6m in the previous 15-month-period. Revenues also fell 18% to £43.2m as the business continued to struggle after its acquisition from Finnish food group Rasio in 2017.

Tangerine, meanwhile, posted turnover of £152.6m for the 15 months to March, up 27% on the previous accounting period. Gross profits, excluding restructuring costs associated with the brand’s sale to Valeo, rose 34% to £30.3m.

Fellow Valeo-owned brand Rowse Honey has also posted its accounts showing further revenue growth.

Rowse sales reached £137.3m, up 2% on the previous year, while pre-tax profits fell 33% to £16.4m due to higher administrative expenses.