Emmi responds to coronavirus crisis in Switzerland

By Jim Cornall

- Last updated on GMT

Emmi said it is still too early to know what the financial impact of the coronavirus crisis will be.
Emmi said it is still too early to know what the financial impact of the coronavirus crisis will be.

Related tags coronavirus COVID-19 Emmi

The shareholders of last week's ordinary general meeting of Swiss dairy company Emmi AG approved all proposals put forward by the board of directors.

Due to the current situation over coronavirus, voting rights could only be exercised in writing or electronically.

Only Emmi chairman, Konrad Graber, the independent proxy, a representative of the auditors and the secretary of the board of directors were present at Emmi headquarters in Lucerne to discuss the agenda items.

Closure of the last financial year

The management report, the consolidated financial statements and the 2019 financial statements were approved, and discharge was granted to the members of the board of directors for their services during financial year 2019.

Shareholders approved the distribution of a dividend of CHF 12.00 ($12.27) per registered share, an increase on the previous year’s dividend of CHF 9.00 ($9.20). The dividend will be distributed on April 8, 2020.

Outlook for 2020

Emmi said it will continue to focus on the consistent implementation of its strategy in 2020. The first two months went according to plan. Since March, Emmi and its subsidiaries in Switzerland and abroad have likewise been facing a special situation.

According to CEO Urs Riedener, top priority is being placed on the protection of employees’ health, the maintenance of production, and the associated procurement of raw materials, packaging and operating materials to secure supply.

A crisis management team is enacting global measures and coordinating their implementation.

Graber said, “In many countries – especially in Switzerland, of course – the population is depending on us to maintain our production. Everyone at Emmi is aware of this responsibility. Where work cannot be done from a home office, for example in production and logistics, Emmi is taking extensive measures to ensure the safety of its employees in the workplace. I would like to express my sincere praise and gratitude to all employees for the matter-of-course approach they are taking to their duties so we can continue business as usual."

Emmi said it is still too early to quantify what the financial impact of the coronavirus crisis will be, and therefore the company is presenting sales and earnings forecasts that had already been made when the results were communicated on March 2, 2020, which are:

    Sales Group: 2% to 3% growth

    Sales business division Switzerland: 0% to 1% growth

    Sales business division Americas: 4% to 6% growth

    Sales business division Europe: 1% to 3% growth

    EBIT: CHF 255m to CHF 265m ($261m-$271m)

    Net profit margin: 4.8% to 5.3%

Plant-based additions

Last month, Emmi also launched its own vegan line under the brand Beleaf. The yogurt alternatives, drinks and shakes based on almonds or oats are joined by a vegan version of Emmi’s cold coffee drink: Emmi Caffè Drink Almond Macchiato.

“The continuing trend towards a vegetarian or vegan diet makes it an economic necessity to get on board with this development,”​ says Urs Riedener, CEO of Emmi.

“Not only do we have the appropriate production facilities, but also a great deal of expertise in plant-based foods.”

With its plant-based brand products, Emmi is entering a segment of its home market that is currently heavily influenced by imported products. However, vegan milk substitutes are a market niche, and Emmi’s core business is and remains dairy products.

“If consumers today reach for plant-based products from time to time, an Emmi product that offers uncompromisingly good taste should end up in their shopping trolley,” ​Thomas Morf, chief marketing officer at Emmi said.

All products have been available in Swiss retail outlets since mid-March.

Related topics Manufacturers COVID-19