Richmond lifted by upmarket ice cream trend
cream products - particularly in the winter months - boosted sales
and profits at the UK's Richmond Foods in 2004, helping the group
match last year's heatwave-assisted performance
In a trading statement, the company said that it expected pre-tax profits of around £14 million for 2004, up from the £10 million posted a year earlier, helped by continued improvements in the company's first half performance.
After losses in the first half of fiscal 2003, (which covers the autumn and winter months), the company has worked hard to promote year-round ice cream consumption, in particular through new product development designed to boost take-home sales.
The company's full-year results, due to be announced in November, are also likely to have been boosted by two acquisitions during the period - regional ice cream producers De Roma and Oldfields - which have already helped Richmond lift its share of the UK retail market from 28.7 per cent to 33.7 per cent in the year to 4 September, according to data from AC Nielsen.
Over the same period, the UK ice cream market declined by 6.5 per cent, the Nielsen data showed.
Richmond has set itself the target of being Britain's biggest ice cream manufacturer by value sales (it is already the volume leader), and its investment and acquisition strategy has reflected this over the last three years. Adding the Nestlé ice cream business in 2001 gave it a solid base in the premium branded ice cream market on which to build, and more recent acquisitions and product launches have strengthened its foothold in the own label and tubs sectors.
Indulgent snack products such as Fab, Smarties and Mivvi, under the Nestlé licensing deal, have helped boost sales dramatically, while the growing awareness of healthy eating has helped sales of the ice cream variant of Ribena, the fruit cordial brand owned GlaxoSmithKline and marketed as rich in vitamin C.
The company has also launched its own 'healthy' product - Skinny Cow - which contains just 2 per cent fat and is marketed to appeal to both consumers vying for indulgent, luxury products as well as those seeking low-calorie healthy alternatives to traditional ice cream.