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DURBAN – Bidcorp on Wednesday said it planned to focus on integrating small acquisitions it had made before taking new opportunities.

Bidcorp said this, however, did not mean it would ignore new opportunities in the market.

The group said its activity in the market remained relatively quiet in the four months to October as management focused on integrating acquisitions already made into the business.

Bidcorp made three bolt-on acquisitions to the amount of R162million before the period.

The group said its subsidiary Guzman acquired 100percent of a broadline distributor in Spain while Crown Food Group in South Africa acquired 100percent of an ingredients distributor to bolster access to the market.

Its Chilean unit also bought two depots and broadened its geographic footprint. The group forecast an improved performance during first quarter of 2019.

“Performance achieved by our large UK, European and Australasian food service businesses remains on expectation, however, Angliss China and South Africa in particular are challenging,” Bidcorp said. “Organic sales have continued to grow, with the gross margin percentage increasing marginally.”

It said the growth was, however, offset by operating cost increases impacted by rising wage costs, due to full employment levels in numerous economies and higher fuel and energy expenses.

The group said growth in the UK, Europe and Australasia would remain supportive of the food service industry and food inflation remains relatively favourable across most markets though the volatility of the local currency could impact its rand denominated results.

“The constant currency results are approximately 3.1percent lower than the rand translated results to the end of October,” the group said.

Bidcorp said its strategy was on growth, organically in current markets, through in-territory bolt-on acquisitions to expand geographic reach and product ranges; and through strategic acquisitions as the group enters new markets. Bidcorp was unbundled from Bidvest in May 2016.

It said operations in emerging markets, particularly South Africa, underperformed in extremely trying economic conditions characterised by stagnant GDP growth and ongoing weak consumer sentiment.

Bidcorp shares declined 2.09percent on the JSE on Wednesday to close at R270.90.