Almost a year after purchasing Hazlewood Foods, Greencore said it had made "substantial progress" in restructuring its business and repositioning itself as a major player in Europeanconvenience foods and ingredients. Despite problems in the ambient grocery business due to soaring flour prices, a flood at the Selby plant and delays in opening its cake factory in Hull, analysts said full-year results at the Irish firm were slightly ahead of expectations. "Hazlewood has propelled Greencore into faster growing categories," said one analyst. "Greencore is now far better positioned going forward." Finance director Kevin O'Sullivan told The Grocer the group was now "about two thirds through" the process of disposing of non core and lossmaking businesses. While retail bread prices did now better reflect price hikes in flour, further increases were probably necessary to restore margins, he added. He also called for the establishment of an independent benchmarking system for beet prices that would help resolve an ongoing dispute with growers over price. Greencore is now divided into four operating divisions: agribusiness, ingredients, ambient grocery and chilled and frozen. The company said it had incurred extra costs as retail customers moved towards central distribution rather than direct store delivery. Operating profits rose 45% to 116.2m euros on sales that almost doubled to 1.8bn euros for the year to September 28. Hefty exceptional restructuring costs pushed pre-tax profit down to 2.1m euros from 7.3m euros last year. {{NEWS }}