Speciality bakery manufacturer Finsbury Food Group is outperforming profit expectations as its total sales revenue grew to £256.2m in the year to 27 June 2015. Its full-year financial trading update revealed the jump in sales revenue – an increase of 45.8% on last year. The figure includes organic growth of £10.7m, which is an increase of 6.1% on the prior year and was primarily provided by the cake division.The Fletchers acquisition, completed in October 2014, contributed £69.3m of additional sales revenue. The acquisition of cake supplier Johnstones Just Desserts on 15 June 2015 occurred too late in the year to impact figures.The second half of the year saw strong growth in sales, as well as the boost from the Fletchers acquisition, while capital expenditure, depreciation, debt and associated financing costs were all lower than forecast. Capital expenditure is expected to increase as investment continues. The board believes the larger, more diversified speciality bakery group is a strong multi-channel business.John Duffy, chief executive of Finsbury Food Group, said: “I am pleased to report the group’s continued strong trading, with growth being driven both organically and also through acquisition. Our EBITDA and profit outperformance illustrates that we have the right strategy in place, particularly in the continued challenging market conditions.“As one of the largest speciality bakery groups in the UK, we believe we are well-positioned to continue to deliver against our strategy and are confident that the business, with our latest acquisitions, will drive group growth and shareholder value.”
“Horribly risky” public markets are reducing the relative risk of private equity holdings, the UK’s largest local authority fund has argued.Neil Cooper, assistant executive director of investments at the Greater Manchester Pension Fund (GMPF), said many investors compared the risk posed by private equity with that of public market investments, but that the current state of the latter was “absolutely crazy”.Speaking at a fringe event on private equity at the annual conference of the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association, formerly known as the National Association of Pension Funds, Cooper said recent “flash crashes” made him question how public markets were being traded.“If you say private equity is risky, that’s fine – it clearly is,” he said. “But the ready comparison in public markets is actually getting riskier, so, on a relative basis, it’s getting less risky compared with the public market equivalent.”He also spoke of the difficulty facing the GMPF in increasing exposure to the asset class, although he said the scheme was happy with its 5% strategic asset allocation.“Even in the last two years, where we’ve quite materially increased our commitment rate, the cash has come back quicker than it’s been going out,” Cooper said.“So that’s actually a trivial task to increase your exposure in an asset class, which is constantly recycling capital and sending it back.”He said the main challenge facing the fund was the difficulty in getting “large sums to work in private equity”.The GMPF, which last financial year achieved an investment return of 11.7%, has seen its assets increase to £17.6bn (€23.8bn), an increase of £4.3bn over the 12 months to March.