Meat and pastry products manufacturer Canterbury Foods is charging ahead with its restructuring and anticipates returning to profit in 2004. Having sold its meat trading division in September for £11.3m in order to focus on its food manufacturing operations, Hull-based Canterbury stated that since half-year results in September, trading has improved with net new business gained in the last two months running at an annualised turnover of around £1.5m. For the second half, operating results were ahead of the monthly forecasts given to the bank as part of the refinancing of the group. At June, net debt was a mammoth £27m, while turnover from continuing businesses reached £23.6m. Results for the year to December are anticipated to show a substantial loss, reflecting the goodwill write-off of the businesses disposed of and reorganisation costs associated with restructuring. On a slightly more cheering note, Canterbury reported that the current year has started well and it is optimistic that results before tax for the first half will reach breakeven while moving into profit in the second half. In December, the company also announced the appointment of a new non-executive chairman, Christian Williams, who previously was the deputy executive chairman for food retailer Budgens. While profitability is elusive for the time being, if Canterbury successfully pull off its restructuring, it could prove attractive.
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