British Sugar owner ABF on track to hit full-year forecast

The British Sugar factory in Bury St Edmunds.

The British Sugar factory in Bury St Edmunds. - Credit: Su Anderson

Associated British Foods (ABF) said today that its annual results would be in line with current expectations, with a negative impact from the strength of the pound and a fall in operating profit within its sugar business offsetting improvements elsewhere within the group.

ABF said that its overall adjusted operating profit for the 52 weeks to September 12 would be down on the previous year, including a £30million impact from the conversion of overseas results into sterling.

The group said that revenue and adjusted operating profit from its sugar business, which includes the British Sugar beet processing operation in the UK, would again be “substantially” lower year-on-year, on both an actual and a constant currency basis.

The fall has been driven by a further decline in European sugar prices although ABF said that prices within the European Union had now stabilised and, with quota stock levels falling back towards historic norms, some price recovery was expected next year.

ABF said operating profits had improved within its grocery, agriculture and ingredients businesses, and at its Primark budget fashion chain, where full year sales are expected to be up 13%.

It added that good cash generation would see a further reduction in net debt and the net interest charge would be lower than last year.