Matthews' profits under pressure

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Bernard Matthews, the turkey producer that has been hit by the strong pound and price pressures, yesterday warned that the problems looked set to continue.

Shares in Bernard Matthews fell by almost 10 per cent on the news even though the company said a raft of cost-cutting and efficiency measures would make the group more competitive.

The Norfolk-based company, which issued a profits warning in May, yesterday reported a decline in half-year profits to pounds 6.7m compared to pounds 10.4m in the same period last year.

It blamed the strong pound, higher interest rates, falling commodity prices and high cereal prices for the fall.

The strong pound has affected margins on exports and enabled imports to place pressure on turkey meat prices in the domestic market. The shares fell 10p to 96.5p compared to over 130p earlier this year.

However, Bernard Matthews said a programme of cost reductions, efficiency improvements and a drive to expand branded product sales pointed to a more favourable outlook in 1998.

Overall sales in the half year increased by 7.5 per cent to pounds 185m with sales of branded products up by more than 10 per cent. Overseas operations increased sales by 14 per cent.