Turnover at French meat products group Fleury Michon grew by 8.8 per cent in the first nine months of 2002, better than the company itself had expected.
Sales reached €412.8 million during the period, helped by a strong performance from the group's delicatessen business, which lifted its sales by 16.1 per cent to €170.6 million. The company had predicted a sales increase of around 15 per cent for the division.
There was double-digit growth from the ready meals, surimi and salad operations, both under the Fleury Michon brand and from retailers' own labels within the delicatessen segment.
The charcuterie division saw growth of 5.4 per cent over the nine months due to a strong recovery in sales during the third quarter, with volume sales of the Fleury Michon brand alone helped by an excellent performance from the premium ham division (driven by new product launches) and speciality cooked meat products such as steaks.
Branded sales were also boosted by a significant investment in advertising, particularly during the summer period, and the company improved its market share thanks to strong sales of reduced-salt ham, microwaveable ready meals and surimi.
The company is not resting on its laurels, however, and is continuing to seek new outlets for its Fleury Michon Meal Solutions range.
It was not all good news during the period, however, with international sales down 14.8 per cent to €5.2 million and sales from the group's non-core operations falling 11.1 per cent to €8.8 million.
The third quarter saw the opening of a new production facility in Milan dedicated to Italian ready meals, operated by the company's joint venture with Beretta. Initial sales show that there is strong retailer demand for Italian meals such as lasagne and cannelloni, the company said.