Strong festive trading and Walmart deal see 2023 end on high note for UK processor

Editorial Staff

Advances in supply chain capabilities underpin robust festive trading says CEO.

UK processor Hilton Food Group’s seafood division surpassed its turnaround targets, achieving operating profits in the second half and for the full year, the company said in a trading update issued on Thursday.

The group’s seafood business had reported losses of £16 million for 2022 as it suffered the impact of the Ukraine war as well as wider inflationary pressures causing the price of raw materials to soar.

“We finished the year with positive festive trading, and full year performance in-line with expectations. Our Christmas period was supported by the strength of our high quality and relevant products,” said CEO Steve Murrells

In September, the company announced a long-term supply agreement with Walmart Canada.

UK processing giant expands into North America with Walmart deal

As part of the deal, Hilton Foods, which already enjoys a prominent presence in 13 European markets through collaborations with retailers such as Tesco, Costco, and Rimi, will establish a new manufacturing facility in Eastern Canada.

The group’s festive period success was attributed to high-quality product offerings and advancements in technology and supply chain capabilities.

“Over the year, we have developed our technology and supply chain capabilities, and underpinned by our Sustainable Protein Plan, we have continued to support our customers, providing them with relevant, high quality proteins that consumers want on their plate,” said Murrells.

Bright future?

In 2017, Hilton made its first foray into the world of seafood when it acquired Grimsby-based Icelandic Seachill.

The company further expanded its seafood ambitions in 2021 with the acquisition of Foppen, a smoked salmon supplier for Costco.

In recent years, however, the group’s seafood business has been grappling with various market challenges, including repercussions of the Ukraine conflict and overarching inflationary pressures.

Looking forward, the board remains confident about 2024, backed by recent positive trading, a strong financial position, reduced leverage, and increased cash flows.


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