Turkey dinosaurs, which were launched last autumn and marked another strategic step towards value-added branded cooked meats, helped Matthews stage a recovery in annual pre-tax profits from pounds 3.34m to pounds 11.3m. Its shares rose 4p to 106p, with investors taking heart from a bullish statement on prospects. First-quarter turnover and profits were significantly ahead of last year, it said. The dividend is being raised 11.1 per cent to 2.5p through a 1.4p final payment.
In the shift towards value-added cooked meats, sales of whole oven- ready turkeys - once the mainstay of Matthews' business - have declined to less than 10 per cent of group turnover.
Total sales in the year to 2 January climbed from pounds 144m to pounds 194.8m, including almost pounds 28m of turnover from acquisitions. The previous year took in an extra week's trading.
The 1993/4 figures do not include any contribution from Turners Turkeys, which was acquired towards the year-end. However, Bernard Matthews, chairman, said: 'Turners was already contributing towards profits.'
Matthews has also been expanding in Europe. Sarvari Baromfiipari, the Hungarian poultry company acquired early in 1993, contributed pounds 2m of profits.
Mr Matthews said 'several millions' had been lost on a start-up venture in France, although it was running profitably after excluding the cost of advertising campaigns.
Germany is also in Matthews' sights. A sales office has been established in Nuremberg.
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