ARYZTA, the baking group created through the merger of IAWS and Hiestand, said it will continue to look to European and North American markets for acquisition opportunities.

Speaking at the group’s earnings conference today (15 March), Aryzta CEO Owen Killian said the group will become more “strategic” and “opportunistic” when it comes to acquisitions.

“Our strategy hasn’t changed at all. We’re very focused on where we’ve positioned this company over the next three to five years and that has always been the case,” Killian told analysts.

“We are much more strategic than opportunistic in relation to acquisitions. We don’t acquire businesses just because they are for sale and because we have the capital to deploy. We want to position ourselves in geographies where we need an acquisition to have a relevance to the customers within that marketplace. We want to position ourselves in channels where we don’t have strong penetration and in products where we need an infill.”

He said that markets within Europe and North America in particular provided “substantial opportunities”.

“We have not been very acquisitive, if you look at the development of this business over the last seven years,” Killian said. “We made a significant move into the French market, which has proven very successful for us and in 2006 we acquired Otis Spunkmeyer in order to give us a lot of penetration.”

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He added: “We made a very significant move in 2008 with the creation of Aryzta. So this hasn’t been a business where we are announcing acquisitions every few months. We wait until we understand the business that has come together … and then we make a move and we will be much more strategic and opportunistic.”

Aryzta saw underlying net profit growth edge up 1.1% for the first six months of the year.

For the period ended 31 January, underlying net profit reached EUR73.8m (US$101.2m), while operating profit remained constant at EUR106.5m.