Breakfast roll man has had a cardiac arrest judging by last week's trading update from Cuisine de France owner Aryzta for the first quarter of its financial year. The baguette maker said that food revenue in the UK and Ireland fell off a cliff, down 25% on last year, because of substantially reduced consumer spending and customer accounts being terminated due to credit concerns. That compared to an average decline in food revenues of 11.4% in Europe and 2.1% in North America.
It's not clear at this stage whether the revenue drop is a value or volume issue but convenience stores in particular have slashed the price of some of their par-baked goods, which in turns means squeezing the suppliers, in this case Aryzta. The simple fact is with less people employed, particularly in industries like construction, there is less demand for lunches and that will continue to have a knock on effect for the company.
That said, the Swiss-based company, which has a secondary listing here, has made clear that cash is the priority rather than revenue and it is sensible to follow the likes of Diageo and other major players in terminating supplies to customers who are in trouble.
Full-year guidance essentially remained unchanged and despite the fact that the company admits it cannot predict recovery and failed to realise the extent of the recession, investors still liked what they heard, sending the share price higher because trading was still "in line with expectations".
Bloxham has pencilled in a 6% fall in the company's full-year earnings "so a much better performance is needed during the remaining quarters to hit full-year targets. Origin's seasonality profile will certainly help but evidence of more stable consumer markets are needed too".
It also pointed out that the weakness of sterling "is a hurdle to generating expected profits from the new Grangecastle facility", a reality that the country's exporters know only too well.