Associated British Foods (ABF) has said the UK bakery market “remains intensely competitive” and expects Kingsmill owner Allied Bakeries’ profit to be lower than last year as a result. ABF’s preclosing statement for its interim results to 28 February 2015 comes after the price of several branded and supermarket own-brand loaves were slashed to just 75p. Last week Sainsbury’s cut the price of 800g Hovis white and wholemeal and 750g Best of Both loaves to 75p, as well as nine of its own-label loaves from 75p to 55p, according to British Baker’s sister title The Grocer.The statement said: “The UK bakery market remains intensely competitive, with a combination of over-capacity in the industry driving manufacturers towards marginal pricing, and retailers seeking to prove their value credentials in essential shopping items such as bread. “As retailers drive for value and range simplification, already tight margins have come under further pressure and Allied Bakeries’ profit will be lower than last year as a result.”Elsewhere, ABF reported that its underlying trading remained in line with expectations, with revenue from its sugar segment “substantially lower” than last year in the first half of the year, though profitability is expected to be close to break-even. EU sugar prices have been lower in the period leading to lower revenues and margins for both the UK and Spain, though there has been some stabilisation of late. AB Sugar has focused on managing its cost base with improvement programmes across all businesses, overhead reduction and lower beet and cane costs.A “marginal decline” is expected in adjusted earnings per share for the group for the full year.Since its acquisition last October, Dorset Cereals has traded well and its integration with Jordans Ryvita is on track.ABF’s interim results to 28 February 2015 are scheduled to be announced on 21 April.
Press Association The Toffees pair both signed from Chelsea in the summer, but did not bring a ready-made partnership due to Lukaku spending the majority of last season on loan at Goodison. The Belgian’s club record £28million price tag – and a lengthy list of rival suitors – might have made him Everton’s marquee arrival, but Eto’o’s free transfer appears an equally sound piece of business. The veteran, arguably Europe’s most feared goalscorer during his time at Barcelona, rolled back the years against Burnley on Sunday, netting a bullet header and classy long-ranger. They were his third and fourth of the season but Lukaku, who was also on target in a 3-1 win at Turf Moor, believes Eto’o’s value as a mentor is just as important. “He’s a world class player. He’s scored so many goals throughout his career and I’ve been blessed to be working with him,” said Lukaku. “I spend most of the time with him. I come in at the same time as he does, I leave at the same time. We do everything together on and off the pitch as well. “In training we have a finishing competition and the one who loses has to do sprints. “We see each other quite often. He comes to my house, I go to his house. I try to learn as much as I can from him and he tells me stories about how he worked when he was younger.” Lukaku has not been short of decorated senior figures to learn from during his time in England and he has set his sights on making a name of his own that will rival the very best. “Samuel has the same impact as (Didier) Drogba and (Nicolas) Anelka had on me when I was younger at Chelsea,” he said. Romelu Lukaku feels “blessed” to be working with strike partner Samuel Eto’o at Everton. “In that aspect I think I’ve been blessed to work with top strikers like them. I hope to be one of them in the future.” The 21-year-old still has a way to go before he can bracketed with those stellar performers, but his potential remains huge. His goal against the Clarets, an untidy but effective finish, was just his fourth in 15 appearances this term – a mark he had already reached after four games last year. “It was a slow start but now I’m getting where I want to be,” he said. “I’ve scored back-to-back Premier League goals now so I only want to look forward. “I’m working very hard and I’m almost at 100 per cent. I think the best has yet to come. “I put myself under pressure, I really want to succeed and I really want to help my team-mates and the club by scoring goals, by winning games. It’s nothing special, it’s nothing new.” For Burnley boss Sean Dyche it was another day to reflect on the scale of the challenge ahead. Now winless in their first nine fixtures and with a shoestring budget to operate on, few pundits give Burnley much chance of winning their battle with the drop. Dyche confronts that assessment head on. “We were written off the day we got promotion,” he told Clarets Player. “Everyone from outside will say all that but we’re not broken – we’re wounded, because we want to win games, but not broken and you can see that from the performance (against Everton). “There were a lot of good signs but they’re only nice for neutrals. We want to win games so we want to turn good signs into even better performances. “We go again, it’s as simple as that.”