GREENCORE HAILS 'BREAKTHROUGH YEAR' FOR THE GROUP - Food group Greencore has called the 12 months to the end of September as a "breakthrough" year for the company. Its revenue for the year jumped 44.5% to £1.1 billion pounds sterling. Revenue from convenience foods was 11% higher, while operating profit was up 37% to £70.7m. The boost came mainly from last year's purchase of British sandwich and pudding maker Uniq for £113m. Greencore said the deal has reshaped the performance, scale and long-term prospects of the group.

Patrick Coveney, Greencore's chief executive, says that the company is now 50% bigger than before the Uniq deal. As well as generating synergies, the Uniq deal has broadened out the customers Greencore now serves and the products is sells to people. Stating that people always have to eat, Mr Coveney says that most, good food companies are seeing volume growth, even if that growth is not great. He says that as a result, investors are seeking out businesses that do well in good and bad times, such as food companies.

Wearing his Dublin Chamber hat, Patrick Coveney says the country's exporting sector is doing "outstandingly well", but that challenges remain in the domestic economy which is continuing to struggle. He says it is vital that next week's Budget does more to create confidence in the domestic economy and to create the conditions which will generate more jobs. He says that while the overall economy is growing slowly, the slight rising tide is leaving some people behind.


MORNING BRIEFS - A statement from AIB Group out this morning says that the bank has made "substantial progress" in the second half of this year in restructuring the bank and implementing its revised strategy and cost efficiency initiatives to ensure a reduction in the bank's operating cost base of about €0.4 billion by 2014. The core business environment remains challenging, it says, although there is continued evidence of stabilisation.

*** Europe is preparing to follow the US in delaying the introduction of stricter rules on bank capital, while it lobbies for a rethink of the US stance, EU sources said overnight. The delay could push back the start of global rules in Europe, known as Basel III, by about six months, and that could be even longer if diplomats and lawmakers fail to break a deadlock on a law meant to be phased in from the start of next year. On the surface, the postponement would be good news for small banks in particular, because it would give them a chance to adapt to a complex new law still being finalised by EU member countries and the European Parliament. But any hold-up would compound uncertainty following a US decision to abandon the January 1, 2013 target, undermining the global accord and promised capital reforms to prevent a re-run of the financial crisis.

*** Retail Excellence Ireland has released its Christmas Trading Predictions. It surveyed companies with 1,550 stores nationwide and together they predict that the value of sales this December will be down by 0.47% on last year. It says that about 60% of retailers expect growth in the number of shoppers, but cautions that what happens in next week's Budget - and the weather - will play a major role in who spends what, where.