Pension deficit soars at Melton-based Samworth Brothers

Samworth Brothers.
Samworth Brothers.
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The pension deficit at a Melton-based food manufacturer has more than doubled over the last two years.

New figures show the food business, based in Leicester Road, had a £172.6 million hole in its pension pot compared to £69.5 million in 2015.

But bosses of the pie and pasty maker say the increase is an accounting technicality and staff have nothing to worry about.

A spokeswoman said: "The pension figure shown in our 2016 accounts is a technical accounting valuation which does not necessarily reflect the financial health of the pension fund.

She said: "It is not directly linked to the valuation of the pension scheme, which is formally revalued every three years.

"This regular triennial review of the fund is currently in progress.

"We take very seriously our commitments to our people, including our pension scheme members "

Last year, Samworth Brothers saw like-for-like sales rise 6.8 per cent compared to 7.7 per cent in 2015. Pre-tax profits fell by about two per cent to £48.4 million.

The spokeswoman said: "In a competitive food market with average industry growth of one per cent, like for like sales rose 6.8 per cent, which was a satisfactory performance.

"However there does continue to be significant challenges in the marketplace, most particularly sustained raw material price rises due to harvest situations, increased global demand and currency fluctuations.

She added: "2016 was also another year of significant capital investment for the group with £52.6 million of spend compared to £31.6 million in 2015.

"This takes out total investment in capital projects across the business over the last five years to over £187.3 million.”