Mail orders reward Farepak

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The Independent Online
Farepak, the quoted Christmas food hamper and meat processing group, has cut its traditional first-half loss and boosted the interim dividend by 16 per cent.

Bob Johnson, chairman, said he was confident the full year would show strong growth, as he unwrapped pre-tax losses for the six months to October of £1.1m against losses last time of £1.5m on sales of £9m (£8m).

Farepak traditionally sinks into the red in the first half because most of its hamper and food processing orders are dispatched in November and December, with the sales recorded in the second six months of the financial year.

The interim dividend increases from 1.85p to 2.15p. Mr Johnson said turnover had advanced because of higher sales of cooked meats by the food processing business, and through the earlier dispatch of mail order giftware.

The chairman said the mail order delivery for last Christmas was very successful, with Farepak supplying 75,000 agents - 5,000 up on the previous year. The group normally supplies about 1 million Christmas hampers each year.

Despite the fall in interest rates, the company's interest income rose from £437,000 to £532,000 because of generally higher cash balances in the period. These reflected a reduction in the level of stocks achieved by operational efficiencies. The shares eased by 7p to 348p.