Milan / IT. (bg) Barilla Holding SpA, which includes Barilla GR F.lli and Harry´s, GranMilano (sold in June 2008) and Lieken, posted 2008 consolidated revenue of 4’535 million EUR, up 6,8 percent as compared to the previous year. Against a backdrop of a challenging worldwide market characterized by a sharp drop in consumption, highly volatile raw material prices and inflation of production costs, the Group achieved a stable EBITDA of 444 million EUR (as compared to 448 million EUR in 2007), while operating margin declined from eleven percent to ten percent. Sales volume was also down slightly.
The Group significantly reduced consolidated net debt by approximately 400 million EUR since 2007 to 869 million EUR, primarily through healthy cash flow generated by Barilla GR F.lli and the sale of GranMilano and Quality Bakers Nederland (Lieken Group).
Revenue grew, in part due to price increases, but also due to the excellent performance of Barilla GR F.lli, which, with revenue of more than three billion EUR, was again the world´s leading pasta company. In Italy, the company was also the leader in bakery products with its Mulino Bianco and Pavesi brands. In France, Harry´s, which is being incorporated into Barilla GR F.lli, remained stable. In the United States, Barilla was once again number one in the pasta market, with a market share of 27 percent (up 1,5 market share points) and approximately 300 million EUR in sales (435 million USD, reflecting a 33 percent increase over 2007). In Germany, Lieken, the leader in packaged bread production, held steady even as the cost of raw materials increased. The company continued to implement its rationalisation programme, focusing on key projects geared to improving efficiency in production and logistics, as well as supporting new marketing initiatives under the Lieken and Golden Toast brands. Kamps brand stores increased sales slightly, while maintaining a solid profit level.
Investments in Research and Development also remained steady, amounting to 36 million EUR, while CAPEX amounted to 154 million EUR (as compared to 226 million EUR in 2007), which is the normal level necessary to ensure the efficiency and safety of the production plants. The drop in CAPEX as compared to the previous year stemmed from the completion in 2007 of projects that required major extraordinary investments, primarily the Avon, New York pasta production facility and the new mill in Parma.
Guido Barilla: «Our 2008 results, given the enormously complex worldwide scenario, again showcase our Group´s solidity and competitive strength. We have substantially maintained sales volumes and have seen revenue increase in major markets, particularly in the United States. 2008 was a particularly challenging year, in light of the volatility of the prices of our key raw materials, for example, durum wheat, the price of which has soared and still remains 25 percent higher than the average price in 2006 (200 EUR per ton versus 160 EUR per ton).
In 2008 we continued to achieve the growth realized in recent years, which has allowed us to reduce our debt by half over the last 3 years», adds Barilla. «Despite the complexity of the challenging scenario, we have continued to adhere to our values and our corporate culture, taking full advantage of the skills and economies of scale afforded by our Group, and thereby providing the Company with the kind of solid financial foundation it will need in order to face the competitive challenges of the coming years».
As it announced its consolidated results for 2008, Barilla also announced that Robert Singer will be stepping down as CEO of Barilla Holding. Mr. Singer will remain as a member of the Board of Directors of Barilla GR F.lli as an independent director. Marco Biagioni, CFO of Barilla Holding, will also be stepping down. The management of Barilla Holding will report to Massimo Potenza, CEO of Barilla GR F.lli.
Robert Singer: «I am leaving my position as CEO of Barilla Holding with great satisfaction and pride for the accomplishments realized in the last three years. We began working in 2006 under difficult financial conditions. Then, through a series of initiatives and transactions (including favourably resolving the dispute with Banco Popolare and obtaining a multi-year secured line of credit of 1,75 billion EUR with highly favourable terms), we have brought the Group to its current very strong financial standing. This stability, combined with Barilla´s great industrial and commercial strength, will provide a foundation for future growth. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the people inside and outside the company who shared this experience with me, and I especially want to thank the Barilla family for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this extraordinary company».
Guido Barilla: «I would like to thank Robert Singer for the extremely valuable contribution he has made to our work over the years. He exhibited energy and commitment as he worked to manage and resolve our complex situation at Kamps and Harry´s and to improve the Group´s financial standing so that today we may confidently focus our energy on development of future business strategy».
About: Barilla Holding SpA is comprised of Barilla GR Fratelli, Harry´s and Lieken and is present in the international markets through the brands Barilla, Mulino Bianco, Pavesi, Voiello, Wasa, Alixir, Misko, Filiz, Yemina and Vesta, Academia Barilla, Lieken Urkorn, Golden Toast, Harry´s and La Bella Easo. Barilla Holding, through its subsidiaries, is the worldwide leader in the pasta market and the leading company in Italy for bakery products (Mulino Bianco and Pavesi) in addition to being the largest bread and bakery products manufacturer in Germany (Lieken) and France (Harry´s). It presently owns 56 production facilities across eleven countries and has more than 16,000 employees.