Supermarket sausage marker Cranswick said the recruitment of 400 butchers from the Philippines, after it struggled to find skilled workers closer to home, helped it continue to grow its profits despite a year of disruption.
The East Yorkshire-based firm, which has 22 UK facilities employing 13,700 people, said it had been a third year of “unprecedented disruption” but that adjusted profits still rose by 2.3% to £140.1 million.
While the FTSE 250 firm continues to press the case for the UK farming and the wider food producer sector, it said the challenge of finding enough high quality skilled butchers had meant recruiting from the Philippines.
Chief executive Adam Couch said the move came at a significant cost but that it had safeguarded service levels when some in the sector had to cut back production due to the ongoing labour shortages.
CFO Mark Bottomley told the Standard that Brexit had made it harder to hire skilled workers.
“Historically we’ve relied on the availability of skilled migrant workers from the EU,” he said. “That has been extremely difficult. But we’ve filled that labour gap from the Philippines.
“In true Cranswick style we’ve been extremely resourceful.”
Bottomley also said the business had faced minimal “trading down” because of the cost-of-living crisis, as its products were usually already very cheap.
“There has been inflation but pork and poultry are still very good value for money,” he said.
Shares rose 5% or 140p to 3280p as Couch unveiled a 5% increase in the full-year dividend award to 79.4p a share. It also announced a new contract win with Pets at Home to sell its pet food.