Granarolo, the Italy-based dairy group, has businesses on its radar to potentially acquire at home and overseas after a year when Covid-19 hit sales but profits rose.

The company, which also has plant-based dairy alternatives and gluten-free products in its portfolio, is looking to buy businesses in the dairy sector, general manager Filippo Marchi told just-food.

“We are considering the possibility of acquisitions on the national and international market: we have identified areas of intervention, we are looking for healthy companies, with an adequate capital structure, that help us to improve our dairy portfolio,” Marchi said.

Two-thirds of Granarolo’s revenue in 2020 was generated in Italy and the company is eyeing assets in its domestic market. “Two in Italy at the moment, one in USA, one in central Europe,” Marchi said, when asked where the companies being evaluated are based. “We are thinking of an important acquisition in the USA and an equally important one in central Europe.” He added the company expects to make an acquisition this year.

Granarolo has eight factories outside Italy – three in Brazil, two in France and one in each of Germany, the UK and New Zealand.

Last year, Granarolo generated revenue of EUR1.28bn (US$1.52bn), down 3% on 2019, with the near-closure of foodservice markets hitting the company’s top line. The company said its sales to foodservice customers fell by 25 to 30% on average.

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EBITDA was up 8% at EUR78.5m, while Granarolo saw its net profit rise 9% to EUR15.8m.

When Granarolo announced its 2020 results last month, chairman Gianpiero Calzolari said the figures were “in line” with the company’s goals to “give back the most value added to our shareholders and the country’s dairy farmers deriving from production quality and organisational efficiency”. More than 77% of the group’s shares are owned by the Granlatte cooperative.

However, he added: “Full resumption, once the effects of the vaccine campaign have been felt, nevertheless raises some concerns. Forecasts from Italian national statistics agency ISTAT indeed see many families in difficulty, falling GDP and a third of businesses – bars, restaurants etc. – not opening their doors again.”