Despite a rise in like-for-like sales for the year of only 3%, Brake Brothers, the UK-based supplier to the catering industry, remains confident of continued progress during 2002.
Brake Brothers confirmed this week that demand from airline and hotel customers had stayed low during November and December, its two most important months.
The company is one of many feeling the effects of a sharp drop in demand from hotels and restaurants. The September 11 terrorist attacks in America have exacerbated an existing slow down in the UK and French hospitality markets, where Brake Brothers operate. The trend has depressed margins.
The company has issued three profit warnings, but said that sales for the last two months of the year were in line with its revised forecasts. It points to its recent acquisitions and investments, notably in its chilled food division, to provide optimism in the face of an uncertain new year.
Boosted by acquisitions, turnover for the year ending December 31 was $1.99 billion, up by 22%. It also highlights strong growth of 8% for the year in the sales of its organic products in France.
The company has further ambitions to move from its current position as the second largest distributor of frozen and chilled food in France, to the number one spot, through continued acquisitions.