England puts Fisher action plan into gear

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The Independent Online
Neil England, the new chief executive at Albert Fisher, yesterday announced details of a three-year business plan to revitalise the food group.

Mr England, former head of the Mars group's Moscow operations, said there would be more investment in processing in the countries of production and in new products, while leveraging off the group's strong position in areas such as fish, citrus fruit and frozen foods.

The aim was "to drive more than to be driven" he said. Many of the operations are to be brought together under the Fisher name to give the group a common sense of purpose.

The news came as the group announced that first-half pre-tax profits of pounds 19.1m replaced losses of pounds 24m last time.

Fisher had to battle against a disastrous Dutch cockle harvest, which reduced the yield to just 13 per cent of expectations, and potato prices which have halved over the past year.

But Mr England suggested the current UK drought could have a silver lining if it drove up fresh vegetable prices.

When that happened in 1995, the group made "windfall" profits of around pounds 2m from its frozen food operations.

Fisher denied that the decision to maintain the interim dividend at 1.85p, where it is only just covered by earnings per share of 1.97p, would restrain its ability to grow.

Investment column, page 25

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