November 2012: Patrick Coveney, chief executive, Greencore

Business Person of the Month | Sun 2 Dec | Author – Business & Finance
Patrick Coveney
Ian Hyland, publisher, Business & Finance; Kieran Duff, partner, MERC Partners; Patrick Coveney, chief executive, Greencore; Ruth Curran, partner, MERC Partners.

From its origins as the Irish Sugar Company, Greencore has transformed into one of the largest convenience food companies in Ireland and the UK. Patrick Coveney has been at the helm of spectacular growth since 2007.

Because

Greencore recently detailed its strong performance despite difficult market conditions so far in 2012 with profits of £70.7 million for the year to September, up 37.3% on the previous year. The food producer grew reported revenue by 44.5% in the same period to £1.162 billion due to acquisition activity and business momentum.

Much of the revenue boost came from last year’s purchase of UK sandwich and pudding maker Uniq. The integration of Uniq is ‘now largely complete’ according to Greencore with the company expecting the delivery of £10 million of synergies in FY13.

Patrick Coveney is chief executive of Greencore Group plc, replacing David Dilger who stepped down in December 2007. Prior to his appointment, Coveney served as chief financial officer for two and a half years and has presided over a period of dramatic, strategic, organisational and financial change at Greencore.

Greencore Group plc is a leading international manufacturer of convenience food with 23 convenience foods manufacturing sites in the UK and the US employing in the region of 11,000 people.

Breakthrough year

Following the release of Greencore’s latest set of results, Coveney described 2012 as a “breakthrough year” for the company:

“The acquisition of Uniq has reshaped the performance, scale, capability and long-term prospects of our group, with all elements of the targeted benefits now delivered.  More broadly, our strategy, enlarged portfolio and

team are working well as we continue to build out industry leading convenience food businesses in the UK and increasingly in the US.

Coveney continued by detailing the breakdown of Greencore’s revenue growth:

“The group delivered revenue growth of 45%, with like-for-like convenience foods revenues up 7.4% despite challenging market conditions.  Operating profits, adjusted earnings and EPS were up 37%, 71% and 22% respectively and strong after tax cash flows have reduced leverage to below 2.5 times, even after acquisition activity.”

The most recent half-yearly statement from Greencore showed that the group had increased its turnover by 46% in the first six months of the financial year, with income totaling £568mn.

CEO

Greencore owes its roots to the former state-owned Irish Sugar Corporation which was floated in 1991. Before joining Greencore, Coveney was managing partner at the Irish office of international management consultants McKinsey & Company, where he gained extensive knowledge and experience in Irish, UK and EU consumer food, food service and retail markets, and played a central role in the development and delivery of successful strategies for a number of major clients in these sectors.

Coveney is a former Rhodes Scholar at New College, Oxford, where he gained a doctorate in management studies. He also holds a BComm from University College Cork (UCC) and is the current president of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce.

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Business & Finance, in association with MERC Partners, has been awarding excellence in business through the ‘Business Person of the Month’ award over the last number of years. These awards seek to recognise noteworthy achievements in business leadership, and particularly those that make a telling contribution to the wider business community in Ireland.