Dutch health and premium taste food group Wessanen’s revenue for the full 2005 financial year decreased by 10% – mainly caused by strong decreases in the first half of the year.

The company managed a EUR489m revenue for the fourth quarter of the year, slipping 2% below results during the same period last year.Wessanen’s North American distribution operations revenue in the quarter decreased from US$347m in 2004, to US$317m in the quarterly period this year, primarily the result of the discontinuation of Ralphs as a customer – which made US$10m in 2004’s fourth quarter. Revenue of the European branded businesses was flat for the final quarter.

Wessanen CEO Ad Veenhof said: “Our results reflect three major developments. First of all, coming from a dramatic low and loss-making situation in 2003 and part of 2004, we are now seeing tremendous operational and financial progress.

“Secondly, we have to operate in a market that is becoming more and more competitive every day. This means we have to be flexible, focused and determined. We have to increase the speed at which we improve and innovate. Thirdly, this year’s level of exceptional items was higher than anticipated. Although we had projected exceptional expenses for the restructuring of our distribution business in North America, the process took more time and money than originally planned.”

The company’s efforts will now primarily focus on creating growth, with branded operations in North America and Europe and the European distribution business expected to grow approximately 4 to 5% in 2006. For the full year 2006, sales of its North American distribution division are expected to show modest growth, negative in the first half.

The company also announced today it will nominate Marie-Christine Lombard as new member of its supervisory board at the next AGM shareholders meeting, on 20 April 2006.

Wessanen supervisory board president Durk Jager said: “We are very pleased to welcome Mrs Lombard to our board. She is known for being a charismatic and effective leader and has an impressive track record in a variety of top functions within well-established corporations.”