- Food packing business Hilton Food Group said annual profits were driven higher by the contribution from Seachill and sales growth in its Western Europe segment.

For 2018, pre-tax profit rose 26.7% to £43.3m and total revenue to rise 21.9% to £1.65bn from a year earlier.

'Seachill's integration together with the new shellfish business win has driven volume and profit growth further supported in Australia through the start of production and transfer of operational control in the joint venture facilities,' the company said.

In July the company restructured its Australian joint venture taking operational control of the existing plants in Bunbury, Western Australia and Melbourne, Victoria and also signed 15 year long term supply agreements with its customer Woolworths.

Its West European segment, which covers the group's businesses in the UK, Ireland, Holland, Sweden, Denmark and Portugal, generate volume growth of 11.6% mainly driven by the UK including the first full year of Seachill, and Ireland. But volumes were slightly lower in Holland, Sweden and Denmark.

Sales in the segment on a constant currency basis grew by 22.1% reflecting the higher volumes boosted by higher unit fish raw material pricing. Operating margins were unchanged at 3.3% form a year earlier, the company said.

'Hilton's operating performance in the early months of 2019 has been in line with the Board's expectations. We completed the acquisition of a UK based sous vide manufacturer and continue to explore opportunities for further geographical expansion in both domestic and overseas markets,' it added.

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