Faced with dwindling profits from its fresh meats division, Glanbia decided to close its UK-based processing plant last year, saying that it intended to focus on more added-value products such as chilled convenience foods.
But charges related to the closure of the plant took their toll on the company's results - figures which were already reduced by the drop in volumes entailed by the plant closure.
Glanbia said that sales for last year were down nearly 12 per cent to €2.04 billion, while operating profits took a major tumble, falling 17 per cent to €76.3 million as a result of €16.5 million in charges relating to redundancy and restructuring costs in Ireland.
But the main hit came at the pre-tax level, with charges of €85.6 million linked to the sale of Glanbia Foods in the UK and the closure of the meat plant. As a result, the group ended the year with losses of €14.9 million, a further decline from the €8.1 million a year earlier.
Not surprisingly, Glanbia put a positive spin on its results, stressing that the three-year restructuring programme was now complete and that the group was well placed to take advantage of expected improvements in its core markets - cheese, nutritional ingredients and prepared foods - and that its underlying performance, excluding the impact of exceptionals, showed profit growth.
But it is not likely to be all plain sailing for the newly-focused group, with a large part of its dairy product business coming from the US, where the cheese market in particular remains weak and the strength of the euro against the dollar continues to bite heavily into results.
Nonetheless, the gradual move away from commodity cheese products such as cheddar into more added value products such as high quality own-label cheeses should allow the company to decrease its exposure to such factors, while the major drive into functional dairy ingredients such as whey and protein isolates allows Glanbia to capitalise on the seemingly relentless demand for healthier food, on both sides of the Atlantic.