Catering equipment maker Enodis restored its annual dividend yesterday and dispelled fears that trading in its largest market had taken a turn for the worse.
The supplier of ovens to restaurants such as Burger King and McDonald's, and maker of fryers, grills and refrigerators for the fast food industry, rewarded shareholders for a ten per cent hike in profits during the year to October 1 by unveiling a dividend of 1.3p - its first such payment since 2001.
Underlying pretax profits of £45.4 million were achieved despite sudden rises in energy bills and prices of raw materials such as steel.
Enodis employs 5,800 people globally and 500 in the UK at operations including Halesowen, Aldershot, Sheffield, and Rochdale.
It said further increases in costs over the next 12 months should be offset by charging customers in North America more for ovens, drinks dispensers and other products made by its Food Service Equipment division.
But tougher market conditions limited its scope to take similar action in Europe and Asia, while cost pressures would continue to squeeze its Food Retail Equipment division selling fridge units to supermarkets and convenience stores across the Atlantic.
Chief executive Dave McCulloch said the London-based company would benefit further from a cost-cutting drive over the past 12 months and he looked forward with confidence to "another year of good progress".
He added: "Although there has been some media commentary regarding the potential for reduced short term consumer confidence, GDP growth and order intake remain strong in North America.
" The Mc Donald ' s, Burger Kings and the Wendys of the world are now competing aggressively with sandwich chains like Subway. Starbucks is forcing them to come out with premium coffee, and people like Starbucks are coming out with food programmes."
The growth of food and drinks markets across the globe were forecast to continue to mirror historic rates of approximately four per cent, Mr McCulloch said.
Enodis generates fourfifths of its £665.4 million of annual revenues across the Atlantic where sales of ice machines were boosted by a particularly hot summer.
Growth was also driven by McDonald's shipping in more equipment that lets them cook hot "deli sandwiches" in less than 90 seconds.
A total of 1,200 machines were delivered in the UK during the second half of the financial year following their roll out in Canada, New Zealand and Australia.
Despite difficult market conditions in the UK, Enodis trumpeted a partnership with brewer Scottish Courage to introduce new coolers and Heineken to supply mobile dispensers.