Hilton Food Group is also involved in providing sustenance to consumers, but in a rather different way from Loungers. Originally known as a meat packer for Tesco, the group still derives most of its sales from preparing red meat for big supermarket chains – from juicy steaks to low-cost mince.
In recent years, however, Hilton has branched out, moving into new parts of the world, such as Australia, Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, and into new food, including fish and vegan products.
Today, more than three-quarters of Hilton’s sales come from overseas and a growing proportion of turnover comes from produce other than meat.
On a plate: In recent years, Hilton Food Group has branched out, moving into new food, including fish and vegan products
Earlier this year, for instance, chief executive Philip Heffer bought Foppen, a Dutch smoked salmon specialist founded more than a century ago. Other recent deals include the acquisition of Dutch vegan group Dalco and Fairfax Meadow, the biggest supplier of meat to the catering trade.
Whether Hilton is selling burgers to Tesco, haddock fillets to Waitrose, vegan patties to sandwich chain Subway or smoked salmon to discount retailer CostCo, the group focuses on building strong relationships with large, established businesses, from supermarket groups to fast-food chains and pubs.
The approach has stood Hilton in good stead over the years and should do so even more in future. Longstanding arrangements with customers allow Heffer to pass on most extra costs as they arise, sophisticated supply chain tools insulate Hilton from raw material shortages and state-of-the-art technology makes the group one of the most efficient and lowest-cost operators in its field.
Offering a wide range of products in a variety of countries is helpful too. If consumers want to tighten their belts, they can buy cheap cuts rather than prime fillets.
And, even if some parts of the world are really feeling the pinch, others are more sanguine. Above all, everyone still needs to eat. In a trading update last month, Heffer acknowledged that the outlook may be challenging, but remained confident about Hilton’s growth prospects.
Brokers share his confidence, forecasting a 9 per cent increase in sales to £3.6 billion for the calendar year 2022, a 12 per cent rise in profits to £76.5million and a 9 per cent increase in the dividend to 32.5p.
Midas verdict: Midas first recommended Hilton in 2008, just after the business was floated on the stock market, when the shares were at £1.70. By 2013, the stock had risen to £3.05 and we suggested there were still gains to be had. The shares have more than tripled since then to £10.62, having been as high as £13 just a few weeks ago. The recent decline is overdone. Existing investors should hold on to their shares. New investors could also find value at current levels.
Traded on: Main market Ticker: HFG Contact: hiltonfoodgroupplc.com or 01480 383333