Blog: Dean BestHope springs eternal at Lindt, Metro Group

Dean Best | 22 March 2010

You know it's approaching Easter when, walking to Lindt & Sprungli's offices in Zurich, you see a giant rabbit sitting on the lawn and Easter eggs nestling in the trees outside the Swiss firm's HQ.

There is a spirit of renewal at the upmarket chocolatier after a challenging 2009. Last week, Lindt reported plunging full-year profits as the downturn hit demand for its premium products - and as cocoa prices and US restructuring costs hit the bottom line.

However, even with the bulk of Lindt's press conference being held in German, just-food could sense an upbeat mood at Lindt, with CEO Ernst Tanner repeating his belief in the "great potential" of markets like the UK and the US.

Speaking to just-food after the conference, marketing director Uwe Sommer echoed his boss' confidence. Sommer insisted that Lindt was one of a few premium businesses to prosper in the US in 2009 and was "bullish" about the UK this year.

You can read more of our coverage on Lindt's prospects this week but there was no mistaking the company's confidence about the year ahead, even when consumer confidence remains fragile.
German retail giant Metro Group also adopted a confident air last week after a turbulent year. Metro claimed it expects to see a "tangible" increase in profits in 2010 despite posting a drop in earnings for 2009.

CEO Dr Eckhard Cordes insisted a focus on international expansion, coupled with its Shape 2012 cost-cutting programme, would drive earnings this year. Dr Cordes, meanwhile, also announced a shake-up of its struggling wholesale unit Metro Cash & Carry.

The moves, the Metro boss claimed, would help the business meet a higher "medium-term" target for profit growth, which the retailer lifted from 8% to 10%. However, not everyone was convinced, with one analyst saying the increased guidance was a "red herring" designed to distract from the "disappointing profit for the year".

In the UK, Peter Marks, the ebullient boss of UK retailer The Co-operative Group, is hardly ever lost for words and last week he was as combative as ever after the company posted bumper 2009 figures.

Speaking to just-food, Marks said the Co-op was ready for more competition in its core convenience channel, telling the likes of Sainsbury's and Morrisons to "bring it on".

This week, one of those retailers, Sainsbury's, issues its latest sales figures and chief executive Justin King, one of the more media-savvy executives in UK retail, will likely issue his own rallying cry as the country's grocers battle for share of the growing convenience sector.


BLOG

Fyffes to face Ethical Trading Initiative disciplinary committee

A year after union officials alleged Fyffes abused workers on plantations in Central America - and called on the produce giant to be kicked out of the Ethical Trading Initiative forum - the company is...

BLOG

Could 3G Capital's next move be in foodservice?

Much of the chatter about where 3G Capital could look next has centred on packaged food - but might the private-equity fund be about to extend its foodservice empire?...

BLOG

Safety allegations could tarnish Mead Johnson's reputation

Headlines that Mead Johnson's board has backed Reckitt Benckiser's takeover bid will no doubt overshadow the other news on the group this week – that it is facing a US lawsuit from a “whistle blower” ...

BLOG

The list of UK's top five grocers has a new member

Kantar Worldpanel issued its monthly supermarket share data in the UK this morning - and the numbers showed a change in the identity of the country's top five food retailers....

just-food homepage



Forgot your password?