Bongrain, the French dairy product group, has reported a successful end to 2002 with operating and net profits both increasing over the previous year. The company attributed its good performance to the strength of its brands and its continued programme of international expansion.
Turnover for the year was down 2 per cent at €3.9 billion, but operating profit increased by 3 per cent to €140.6 million and net profits rose by 3.3 per cent to €61.4 million.
The company said that the profit improvement came as a result of the success of its branded dairy products business, which accounted for 75 per cent of sales, was due to the "quality of the products and to our ability to adapt them to the requirements of the different markets in which we operate".
Organic growth from the company's main brands was maintained throughout 2002 despite the steady decline in world dairy prices and weak economies in a number of the company's core markets. The Argentine market in particular showed a marked recovery during the year.
As well as the strong performance from branded dairy products, Bongrain said that it had also benefited from increased competitiveness and specialisation in the dairy ingredients segment. The company's gastronomy (upmarket food products) business also recovered in difficult market conditions.
Last year was marked by Bongrain's European expansion via the completion of the acquisition of a stake in Polish group Turek and the purchase of a majority stake in Paslek.
For the current year, the company said it expected to see a continuation of the unstable market conditions but that it nonetheless expected to improve profitability as European dairy markets strengthened, the company's own productivity improved and its range of products continued to expand.