Barilla booked higher annual sales and earnings

Barilla booked higher annual sales and earnings

Barilla, the Italy-based food group, has booked a 14% increase in annual profits, helped by rising sales, a reduction in marketing costs and lower finance expenses.

The company posted net profit of EUR143.7m (US$160.3m) for 2015, up 14.4% on the EUR125.5m it generated a year earlier.

Operating profit rose 6.4% to EUR308.4m amid lower spending on marketing and a dip in logistics costs. From continuing operations, operating profit increased 4.1% to EUR305m.

Barilla's revenue rose 3.9% to EUR3.38bn, or by 2% net of the impact of exchange rates.

In Italy, Barilla's revenue was "slightly down" due to "varied dynamics" in its meals and bakery categories. Barilla, for example, said its bakery volumes rose but revenues fell amid an increase in promotions.

In Europe, sales volumes rose 4%. A "strong performance" in France led to sales in western Europe rising by volume and value. Barilla's central Europe division - comprising the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland - reported higher volumes and revenues in each market.

In the Americas, Barilla said its revenues increased in each of its markets.

Revenue from Barilla's combined Asia, Africa and Australia business grew 14% at constant exchange rates. Volumes rose 2%. Barilla did admit its presence in China is "progressing slower than planned".

Reflecting on the results overall, chairman Guido Barilla said: "The good cash flow generated in 2015 allowed further reduction of the group's net debt, which fell to EUR170m compared to EUR250m in 2014. This proves our sound position in generating value and constitutes the necessary premise for future growth."

The pasta-to-sauces group operates directly in 26 countries, exports its products to more than 100 countries and owns 29 production facilities across nine countries.