Greencore profit growth has been dented in a “challenging” half year by problems in the firm’s US operation.While group revenue rose 22.6% year on year in the first half of the current financial year to £1,238.5m, adjusted operating margin dropped 70 basis points to 4.8% following investments in the UK ready meals business and because a greater proportion of group profits were generated in the lower-margin US division.“The first half of FY18 has been challenging for Greencore and its shareholders,” said Greencore chief executive officer Patrick Coveney, who is to spend more of his time leading the US business.“While we delivered strong revenue growth in both the UK and US, profit growth was impacted by the challenges experienced in the original part of Greencore’s US divisionGreencore said it had extended some of its long-term partnership agreements with key customers and secured new business wins.Strategic investment in the UK division had returned to normal following increased spending over the past two years. Greencore’s remaining major project, the refurbishment and extension of the group’s largest ready meals facility in Warrington, is set to complete by the end of the current financial year.As previously announced, the business is exiting the cakes and desserts market with the sale of its operation in Hull to Bright Blue Foods, and the planned closure of its Evercreech desserts site this summer.Revenue in the UK & Ireland convenience foods division rose 7.2% to £734.9m in what it described as a challenging trading environment. Adjusted operating profit increased slightly to £47.1m.Food-to-go revenue increased 10%, driven by category growth and the incremental impact of previously announced business wins. The business also benefited from growth in revenue from the distribution of third-party products through its Direct to Store network following consolidation in the distribution industry.“The dynamics of the wider food-to-go market remain favourable and are supported by consumer demand for convenience, snacking and a preference for healthier products,” stated the business.“There is also continued customer support for food-to-go as an incremental, high-margin category and the group is actively supporting the innovation and commercial effectiveness of customers’ product ranges through various initiatives.”Revenue from the US division rose 55.1% to £503.6m, which reflected the acquisition of Peacock Foods in December 2016.In the Peacock part of the business, pro forma revenue grew 15.5% and volume grew 12%. However, pro forma revenue and volume in the original Greencore part of the business declined 23.7% and 25% respectively, driven by previously announced contract loss in the group’s Jacksonville facility last year.Greencore has reviewed its US strategy to focus on its branded food partners. It has also ceased production at its Rhode Island facility and plans to sell the site.“As a result of the significant strategic, network and organisational measures that we have taken in order to address these challenges, we believe that our US business is now much better positioned to deliver an improved performance in the second half of the year and beyond,” said Coveney. “We anticipate strong organic growth for the remainder of FY18”.
JOSE MOURINHO is targeting a bumper £90million transfer swoop for Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly, according to reports.El Desmarque claim the Tottenham boss is desperate to shore up his defence and has already opened talks with the Serie A club over a January move.2 Jose Mourinho is poised to make a fresh attempt to sign Kalidou Koulibaly after missing out at Manchester UnitedCredit: ReutersThe Spanish outlet adds that Mourinho faces competition for the Senegalese ace from two of his former clubs in Real Madrid and Manchester United.The Portuguese boss was desperate to sign Koulibaly at Old Trafford, with Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis confirming that they rejected a £95m bid for the centre-back last year.Spurs kept their first clean sheet under Mourinho in the 5-0 win over Burnley, conceding two per game in the four matches before that.Both Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen are set to leave the club on free transfers in the summer and are free to agree moves with non-English clubs in January.KOUL STORYKoulibaly has emerged as one of Europe’s most highly-rated defenders since moving to Napoli in 2014, but has long been linked with a move away from Italy.Despite his public declaration of love for Carlo Ancelotti’s side, the 28-year-old may finally up sticks and leave this year following a series of off-field problems.Mutiny broke out at Napoli last month when the players ignored orders to stay at the training ground for an intense retreat – known as in ritiro – to try and turn around a poor run of form.President De Laurentiis slapped the key offenders with fines, with Koulibaly thought to be among the worst targeted after he was docked £192,000.Ultras quickly took the president’s side and terrified footballers fled their homes under fear of confrontation.LADBROKES 1-2-FREE Simply predict West Ham, Man Utd vs Everton and Arsenal vs Man City scores this coming weekend and win £100Most Read in FootballTHROUGH ITRobbie Keane reveals Claudine’s father was ’50-50′ in coronavirus battleTOP SELLERGavin Whelan has gone from League of Ireland to David Beckham’s InstagramPicturedAN EYEFULMeet Playboy model and football agent Anamaria Prodan bidding to buy her own clubExclusiveRIYAD RAIDMan City’s Riyad Mahrez has three luxury watches stolen in £500,000 raidI SAW ROORodallega saw Rooney ‘drinking like madman’ & Gerrard ‘on bar dancing shirtless’NEXT STEPJonny Hayes set to move to English Championship having been let go by CelticThis led to reports that Koulibably would be among the stars sold no matter what, but any arrival would still cause Spurs to break their transfer record.The north London club only broke their record to snap up Tanguy Ndombele for £65m from Lyon back in July.And many anticipated that Mourinho would likely come into conflict with notoriously thrifty Daniel Levy over the Special One’s tendency to splash the cash.2Man Utd have offered £95m for Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly – here is why