Franck Riboud, the chairman of French food giant Danone, is a happy man. Not one given to enthusiastic outbursts, Riboud told a press conference not only that “Danone is doing well,” but also that the French market leader had demonstrated its ability to generate sustained growth.
The group has realigned its strategy in recent years, offloading grocery and packaging activities to focus more keenly on the more profitable dairy, snacks and water sectors. Earlier this year, Danone acquired the McKesson water group in Los Angeles to become the second largest bottled water producer in the US.
The strategic shift seems to be paying off: turnover from the first half rose by 8.1% to €7.2bn at constant exchange rates, while operating profits climbed 10.3 % to reach €770m. This grew the group’s operating margin to 10.6% from 10.2% the same period last year. Moreover, the outlook for the rest of year is just as bright, with Riboud forecasting sales growth of 7%.
Riboud took the opportunity presented by the conference to confirm, once again, that Danone is not among the suitors of US biscuit group Keebler. Rumours had circulated suggesting that the French group was interested in Keebler – but Kellogg and Campbell Soup have also been the subject of similar rumours. Riboud categorically denied any interest in Keebler, saying: “In the current context, making an offer for Keebler is not in our best interests. But as I say, this is the current situation – the road is long.”
This notwithstanding, earlier this year Danone held talks with UK soft drinks and confectionery group Cadbury Schweppes over a joint bid for Nabisco, the biscuit and cracker group which was eventually acquired by Philip Morris food arm Kraft Food International.
For Danone’s full H1 results, please Click Here.