TORONTO — Fiscal 2012 results in the Weston Foods segment were “satisfactory” despite soft sales due to a difficult sales environment, parent George Weston Ltd. noted in its 2012 annual report filed Feb. 28. Operating income for the Weston Foods division of George Weston Ltd. was C$228 million ($221.9 million) in the fiscal year ended Dec. 31, 2012, up 10% from C$208 million in fiscal 2011. Adjusted operating income, meanwhile, increased 4% to C$275 million ($267.6 million).
Net sales were C$1,765 million ($1,717.8 million), down from C$1,772 million a year ago.
“The loss of certain frozen distributed products that Weston Foods distributed on behalf of certain customers in 2012 negatively impacted sales growth and volume growth by approximately 1% and 0.4%, respectively, while foreign currency translation positively impacted sales by approximately 0.4%,” the company said. “Excluding the impact of distributed product and foreign currency translation, sales increased by 0.2% due to the positive impact of pricing across key product categories of 1.8%, partially offset by a decrease in volume of 1.6%.”
George Weston said fresh bakery sales, principally bread, rolls, bagels, tortillas and sweet goods, represented approximately 35% of total Weston Foods sales in fiscal 2012, down from approximately 36% in 2011.
“Fresh bakery sales decreased by approximately 3.3% in 2012 compared to 2011 primarily due to lower sales volumes partially offset by the impact of price increases implemented in the beginning of the second quarter of 2011,” George Weston said. “Volumes decreased in 2012 compared to 2011 mainly due to a difficult sales environment. The introduction of new products in the last 12 months, such as Country Harvest cranberry muesli and flax and quinoa breads, D'Italiano Brizzolio rolls and Gadoua Pain de Ménage, contributed positively to branded sales in 2012. In addition, during the fourth quarter of 2012, Weston Foods launched private label gluten-free bread and sweet goods and the Flat Oven Bakery line of international flatbreads.”
Frozen bakery sales, principally bread, rolls, donuts, cakes and sweet goods, represented about 47% of total Weston Foods sales in 2012 and 2011. The company said frozen bakery sales decreased by approximately 2.3% in fiscal 2012 driven by the loss of certain distributed products. Excluding the effect of the loss of these distributed products, frozen bakery sales fell approximately 0.3% in 2012, George Weston said.
Biscuit sales, principally for wafers, ice cream cones, cookies and crackers, represented approximately 18% of total Weston Foods sales, up from 17% in fiscal 2011.
“Biscuit sales increased by approximately 9.2% in 2012 compared to 2011 due to higher volumes as well as the positive impact of pricing and changes in sales mix,” the company said. “Volumes increased compared to 2011 mainly due to growth in cookie and wafer sales.”Overall, net earnings at George Weston fell 21% in fiscal 2012 to C$726 million ($706.8 million), equal to C$3.45 per share on the common stock, down from C$919 million, or C$4.58 per share, in fiscal 2011. Sales rose narrowly to C$32,742 million from C$32,376 million.