Morning business news - November 2Friday 02 November 2012 11.14
ARAMARK BUYS €45M OF IRISH PRODUCE EVERY YEAR - Aramark is the largest catering firm in the country, serving up 250,000 meals across Ireland every day and purchasing €45m worth of Irish produce each year in order to do so. Aramark will be a familiar name to many Irish workers from its role in providing the food they eat at workplace canteens.
Donal O'Brien, the company's chief executive, says that the business is starting to grow again after some lean years and that if a company gets the value offer correct, people will buy your produce. Mr O'Brien has noticed that people are increasingly focusing on health and well-being and what sort of food they consume. He says that employers are very conscious of the fact that it is important to offer variety of foods, while they also realise the importance of educating their workforces of the need for health eating.
On the issue of food inflation, Mr O'Brien says this is driven by many factors including seasonality, adding it is vital that companies buy the right product at the right time. He says that consumers are discerning and if you get the offer and quality correct, they are willing to spend a little more.
MORNING BRIEFS - The level of impairment charges, money being set aside to cover losses, by Royal Bank of Scotland has fallen over the last three months. The British-government owned lender took a £1.2 billion hit in the third quarter for impairments, according to results released to the stock exchange this morning. That is down £159m from the previous quarter. RBS subsidiary Ulster Bank accounted for £493m of the impairments compared to £514m over the previous three months. The bank said that impairment losses at Ulster Bank for the first nine months of the year came to £1.046 billion, down from £1.057 billion for the same period last year.
Ulster Bank said it has made a €103m provision for what the company described as the "technology incident" earlier this year which saw many thousands of the bank's customers out of pocket and unable to access their Ulster Bank current accounts for an extended period. Operating profit for Ulster Bank was up 12% for the third quarter of the year but down for the nine months as a whole on where it was in 2011.
*** Retailer Brown Thomas made a €6.6m pre-tax profit from its shops in Dublin, Cork, Galway and Limerick and its BT2 outlets last year. The company reported a 13% rise in operating profit despite a drop of just under 1% in turnover to just under €141m. Brown Thomas has credited better cost control for the positive result in what are very difficult conditions for Irish retailers across the board.
*** Sales of the cholesterol drug Lipitor, for which the pharma company Pfizer produces the active ingredient in Cork, fell by 71% to $748m. This took Pfizer's third quarter profit down 14%. Lipitor has for many years been the top selling prescription drug in the world but has recently come off patent. Last December exports from Ireland fell by 9% almost entirely due to a drop in demand for Lipitor. As a consequence in June Pfizer announced it would cut 177 jobs in Ireland.