Food group has evolved but can't buck downturn
ANALYSIS:THAT ARYZTA’S full-year results were within expectations is impressive in light of the tough consumer climate, but its cautious note on 2013 is disquieting.
The company highlighted continued weak consumer demand, and resurgent food price inflation, both serious challenges for the company which sells baked goods to the retail sector.
But while some analysts and investors focused on the negative, it’s worth remembering that Aryzta has undergone significant transformation.
Revenue of more than €4 billion is significant by any standards, and despite Aryzta’s under-the-radar style, it is one of the world’s largest specialist providers of baked foods.
Its biggest development has been its expansion into North America, mainly through the acquisition of two major bakery companies in 2010. It now supplies chains such as McDonalds, Starbucks, Tim Hortons and Subway. Aryzta’s business in Europe is much more fragmented, supplying more independent businesses such as shops, hotels, coffee shops and golf courses. These are affected by Europe’s economic downturn, and business is competitive.
Chief executive Owen Killian noted changing consumer trends – a growing demand for whole-grain and gluten-free products for example, as well as for snack options. Aryzta has been responding to changing consumer patterns, producing flatbreads such as tortillas and wraps, for example, this year.
It has also tightened up its internal structures. The company, which, after its creation in 2008, functioned in many ways as a holding company for different businesses, has developed a more centralised system of dealing with customers, with single point-of-sales contacts for major customers, and a more integrated supply chain.
Nonetheless, while next year’s growth is expected to be similar to this year – Aryzta now predicts earnings per share growth of 5-10 per cent next year, compared to almost 9 per cent this year – some analysts are getting tetchy about future prospects.