20 Apr Supermarket supplier Bakkavor hails ‘steady return’ to normal shopping habits
akkavor hailed a “steady return” to normal shopping habits on Tuesday as the supermarket supplier announced plans to reinstate its dividend.
The to-go-focused firm – which makes salads and ready meals for the likes of M&S and Tesco – said in a trading update that its UK first quarter sales were down just 6.4% on the same period last year, of which the majority was pre-pandemic.
Bosses said they have been “reassured” by a recovery in UK sales since schools opened and lockdown first eased in early March.
Overall group sales in the first quarter were down 4.4% due to the impact of pandemic restrictions still in place around the world, despite a 56.2% year-on-year growth in its China revenues in the period and its American business seeing like-for-like growth of 17.9%.
It comes after Bakkavor reported 2020 revenues down 4.9% on 2019 as food-to-go sale volumes were hit by commuters working from home.
The company said that “while uncertainty remains”, its board is recommending reinstating a previously-suspended 2019 final dividend of 4p per share.
Group finances are “robust”, the firm said, and highlighted the group’s reduction in net debt since the pandemic hit, and its £200 million headroom against debt facilities of £538 million.
Shares were up 2.6% in early trading on Tuesday.