Hilton Food Group eyes further expansion and more takeovers

  • Hilton supplies major supermarkets including Tesco, Morrisons and Waitrose
  • The company reported pre-tax profits skyrocketed by 64.2% to £48.6m in 2023

Hilton Food Group is planning further geographic expansion and potential takeover deals after profits jumped by nearly two-thirds last year.

The food packaging company, which supplies major supermarkets including Tesco, Morrisons and Waitrose, reported bumper pre-tax profits growth 64.2 per cent to £48.6million in 2023.

Its UK seafood arm returned to operating profitability thanks to price hikes and new business contracts after being heavily impacted the previous year by surging cost inflation and supply chain disruption.

Tasty results: Hilton Food Group which supplies major supermarkets including Tesco and Waitrose, reported pre-tax profits accelerated by 64.2 per cent to £48.6million in 2023

Hilton’s core meat segment also performed strongly amid volume growth in the Asia-Pacific region and a ‘resilient outturn’ across the UK and Europe.

In the British Isles, the firm’s revenue increased by 3.7 per cent at constant currency levels to £1.33billion as raw material price rises offset declining volumes.

At the same time, sales in Europe were bolstered by higher demand for easy meals across Scandinavia and Central Europe, as well as the acquisition of Dutch smoked salmon processor Foppen.

Steve Murrells CBE, chief executive of Hilton Foods, said: ‘Over the past year, we’ve remained focused on executing our strategy, which has resulted in a good performance against a challenging market.

‘I am particularly pleased with the results in our seafood category, returning to full-year operating profitability following a successful turnaround.’ 

Much of Hilton’s recent expansion has come from takeovers, with Foppen followed by catering butcher Fairfax Meadow and plant-based food manufacturer Dalco.

While it is looking to grow further through acquiring companies, the business is also considering having a foothold in more countries and seeking tie-ups with prominent brands.

Last year, the Huntingdon-based firm agreed a tie-up with Walmart to supply meat and seafood to the American retail giant’s Canadian hypermarket stores.

It was the first takeover struck under the leadership of Murrells, who joined as CEO last year following the departure of co-founder Philip Heffer.

Prior to joining Hilton, Essex-born Murrells, 58, ran the Co-Operative Group between 2017 and 2022 and held senior positions at Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Danish meat company Tulip, which later changed its name to Pilgrim’s Pride.

Adam Vettese, analyst at eToro, said: ‘Recovery has been a bit of a slog for Hilton Food Group, but they seem to be turning the corner with a little more meat on the bone in this latest set of results.’

Hilton Food Group shares were 2.1 per cent up at £8.72 on Wednesday morning and have climbed by around a quarter over the past 12 months.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk