Glanbia - the global ingredients and dairy firm - has reported that its profits for the 12 months to the end of December were 10.8% higher at €161.2m.
When joint ventures are taken into consideration, revenue was €3.5 billion. The group's recent focus has been on its Global Performance Nutrition and Global Ingredients divisions, and these have been driving earnings. Its dairy division in Ireland has been made more efficient, it said, and delivered an improved performance last year, driven mainly by its Consumer Products.
Siobhán Talbot, Glanbia's chief executive, says the company was pleased with the company's performance, which came in at the higher end of its expectations. Ms Talbot says the company is playing into the core consumer trends, where consumers are increasingly seeking high quality, nutritious food products. Glanbia is benefiting from those trends both as an ingredient provider and a branded sports nutrition product maker, the CEO adds. She says that consumers recognise Glanbia products are clean and nutritious and products which will help meet their lifestyle demands. In its Performance Nutrition division, Glanbia works with athletes to develop their performance, and Ms Talbot says that athletes are very conscious of what they eat because they recognise that food has a key part to play in a healthy lifestyle.
Glanbia says its outlook for Dairy Ireland for 2015 is positive and Ms Talbot says there has been a lot of changes in its Consumer Foods and Agribusiness divisions over the last few years. She says the company was "delighted" to see the divisions' 2014 performance improved from 2013 - as planned. "Essentially a lot of what we are doing is right-sizing the organisation for the changed retail environment," the Glanbia chief states. She says it is important to note that the company has continued to invest in its brands and recently launched new products under the Avonmore brand, including such items as protein milk.
Complaints to the office of the Financial Services Ombudsman in 2014 fell by 42% from the year before to just under 4,500 and nearly €950,000 was awarded in compensation. The fall is because the office can now name and shame companies who have complaints against them substantiated. Most complaints were about the investment sector, but the biggest problem product was mortgages.
The Financial Services Ombudsman Bill Prasifka says that things are going in the right direction since the office was allowed to "name and shame" offending companies. Mr Prasifka says his Office's latest report shows a continuation of the trends that first started - very dramatically - in the last quarter of 2013 when the Office got the powers to set out the complaint records of individual financial service providers. He says this led to renewed levels of engagement with customers. "The message is very clear - if consumers have a problem with their financial product, the first people they should go to - and really the place where the complaint should be resolved and dealt with - is the financial service provider," Mr Prasifka states.
Mr Prasifka says the numbers in today's report really speak for themselves - 18 months ago the Office was receiving over 8,000 complaints a year, but that has now fallen to just under 4,500. He describes the fall as a very significant change and is mainly because of increased levels of commitment and engagement - which he wants to see continue. He says that mortgages continue to be a problem area because of the fact that many people are still experiencing financial distress and the mortgage product for many people is the largest financial commitment they will make. He predicts that mortgages will continue to be a source of complaints to the Financial Services Ombudsman office in the future and the Office has to deal with them as expeditiously and effectively as it can.
MORNING BRIEFS - London's FTSE 100 Index is to open at a record high this morning after investor confidence was boosted by an agreement to extend Greece's bail-out terms. The breakthrough came after European creditors approved the list of reform measures being proposed by Athens as a requirement of the country's four-month extension to its debt arrangements. A rise in the price of Brent crude oil yesterday, to about $60 a barrel, was another factor in pushing the FTSE 100 Index above the 6,950 record set during the dot.com boom at the end of 1999.