Lancaster leans on licensing program for sales growth

Lancaster leans on licensing program for sales growth

WESTERVILLE, OHIO — Another strong quarter from its licensing program coupled with increased demand for New York Bakery frozen garlic bread drove record sales at Lancaster Colony Corp. in the first quarter.

Net sales at Lancaster surged to $392.06 million in the first quarter ended Sept. 30, up 12% from $349.24 million in the same period a year ago.

Net income, meanwhile, fell 17% to $30.66 million, equal to $1.11 per share on the common stock, down from $37.08 million, or $1.35 per share, a year ago. Earnings in the most recent quarter were dragged down by $7.2 million in expenditures related to Project Ascent.

Operating income in the Retail segment totaled $48.18 million, up 13% from $42.66 million in the same period a year ago. Retail sales increased 16% to $223.89 million from $193.73 million.

“Retail sales growth in this year’s first fiscal quarter was driven by our licensing program led by Chick-fil-A sauces and Buffalo Wild Wings sauces,” David A. Ciesinski, president and chief executive officer, said during a Nov. 3 conference call with analysts. “The sales for those two product lines combine to account for nearly 13 percentage points of growth for the Retail segment in the quarter. IRI scanner data for the 13-week period ending Sept. 26 showed total US food sales of Chick-fil-A sauces at $35.1 million, and sales of Buffalo Wild Wings sauces at $13 million. Olive Garden dressings remains another bright spot in our licensing program as it continues to gain market share in the $2.1 billion shelf-stable dressing category. Per IRI, Olive Garden dressings grew their category share to 6.3% during the quarter.

“With respect to our own brands, per IRI data for the 13-week period ending Sept. 26, highlights included a 450-basis point pickup in market share for our own New York Bakery in the frozen garlic bread category.”

Operating income in the Foodservice segment totaled $15.83 million in the first quarter, down 42% from $27.42 million in the same period a year ago. Foodservice sales, meanwhile, increased to $168.17 million, up 8% from $155.51 million.

“In our Foodservice segment, excluding Omni Baking sales attributed to a temporary supply agreement that ended Oct. 31 last year, net sales increased 10.1%,” Mr. Ciesinski said. “The increase in net sales was driven by inflationary pricing and volume growth for our branded Foodservice products. Excluding inflationary pricing, sales volumes to our national chain restaurant customers were similar to last year.”