Frozen food discounter Heron Foods recorded a 5.1% increase in like-for-like sales but profits almost halved last year.
Heron Foods said property write downs, goodwill amortisation charge and an increase in depreciation charges hit pre-tax profits which fell to £4.8m from £8.1m in 2011. EBITDA was “maintained” at £14.6m.
Total sales rose to £184.2m in the year to December 29 from £164.9m the prior year, according to accounts filed at Companies House.
Sales at the retailer have surged since the onset of the economic downturn as thrifty shoppers hunt bargains and aim to prevent waste through purchasing frozen foods.
Heron’s directors said: “The challenging economic climate has continued into 2013 with consumers continuing to seek exceptional value for money. The directors believe that this trend will continue for the foreseeable future and indeed the conditions may harden as government policies bite still harder into disposable incomes.
“Consumers will continue to seek value by shopping sensibly and selectively to save money. The current year has started very positively with sales and EBITDA and operating profit ahead of forecast.”
However Heron said it hit problems in integrating the 53-store Cooltrader business it acquired from Iceland in September 2012.
The directors said: “Unfortunately the completion of the deal was delayed by some three months and the company suffered significant increased costs as a result. Initially the company suffered increased distribution and administration costs in the third and fourth quarters as the company invested heavily in its distribution facilities to ensure a smooth transition on completion.”
Heron also discounted much of Cooltrader’s stock to bring Heron products in store.
Heron is investing in its infrastructure to keep apace with its expansion.
During the year, Heron opened 11 new stores, relocated nine and refitted 11 shops. It now operates 235 stores across the north of England and the Midlands.