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  • Hugo Walker

Greencore reveals plans for Covid recovery strategy

In order to bounce back from the Coronavirus crisis, Greencore has revealed a three-part strategy: recruitment, automation, and an expanded plant-based product range. The Dublin-based convenience food manufacturer reported a £1.8m loss in the six months to March 2021, as well as a 19 per cent drop in revenues, in its interim results. However, chief executive Patrick Coveney appears optimistic about Greencore’s roadmap out of the pandemic slump.

Firstly, Greencore aims to onboard 5,000 new staff within the period 1 March to 1 July. An increase in automation will work in tandem with the recruitment drive. Mr Coveney said:

“We’re looking to onboard close to 5,000 people into our business between 1 March to 1 July. Certainly, as we are thinking about the role automation will play here, we think it will be in addition to the people we’re bringing into the business, as opposed to instead of.”

Elaborating on the role of automation, Mr Coveney commented:

“The big area for us is seeing if there are parts of the sandwich assembly process that we can automate and we think there are.

We have been developing automated - typically robotic - technology to do that, but we will have those as part of our production process, which still has loads and loads of people involved in it.”

Greencore is also looking to expand its vegan and vegetarian product range. This plant-based new product development is already underway: of the 700 new products launched in the first six months of 2021 by Greencore, 40 per cent were vegan or vegetarian. The plant-based NPD is in line with UK trends seeing a significant increase in demand for vegan products over lockdown.

As lockdown eases, business performance looks like it is on the up. Mr Coveney said:

“As we have transitioned into the second half and begun to see society reopening and we’re going through these different phases of the UK’s plan to emerge from COVID, we’re seeing volumes surge back strongly.

If I take the seven weeks of the second half (up to 14 May) our business in aggregate was up to 95% of the pre-COVID revenue rate in that period. We’ve been 64% ahead of the equivalent period last year in revenue terms - way up on last year and pretty close to April/May 2019.

A big part of what we are doing is to secure the new business, either in core categories we’re already in or in parts that are of interest to us.

That’s a big area of opportunity and we reported that we have secured £175m of new revenue for Greencore over the last 12 months, which we are on-boarding this year and some next year. We are confident in the rebound and we want to deliver new business activity as well.”


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